Retro Ratings: Survivor Series 1997 - "Singing, Bye Bye "Mr. It's-Still-Real-To-Me Guy"

SURVIVOR SERIES

NOVEMBER 9, 1997

Bobby Lashley Wants A Woman In 'The Hurt Business', Tony Schiavone Honors Jim Crockett | Fight-Size

Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Synopsis: "Bret Hart defends the WWE Championship against Shawn Michaels in a controversial main event. Plus, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kane and more!"

General Impressions: Not a great show, but one that I enjoyed watching. The traditional elimination matches were all paced well and kept my attention despite not having any real stakes. Additionally, they feature some exceptional character work and hint at potential stories for the coming weeks. The main event delivered on its promise of a fight and showcased, despite their differences, real or not, just how well Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart work together. I was a bit disappointed that the broadcast cuts off so abruptly after the match because I was looking forward to seeing Bret's meltdown. Regardless, I'm beyond excited to watch Raw and relive the fallout from this historic event.

Opening

  • A tremendous video package begins the broadcast and sets the stage for the nights main event. Despite knowing the outcome, they sold me a ticket. I was ready to watch these guys kill each other.
  • The event was sponsored by Milton Bradley's Karate Fighters. Remember those? Neither do I.
  • I love the small entrance tunnel. Not only do I find it more visually striking than the big stage WWE currently uses, but it makes aerial shots of the crowd look more impressive because the arena is fuller.
  • Albert DeFrusia served as the ring announcer for the evening. Using a Francophone was a nice touch. It made the show feel more authentic to the town from which it was emanating.

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match

Road Dog, Billy Gunn and The Godwinns defeated The Headbangers and New Blackjacks

5.5/10

  • Road Dog cuts a promo and says "the steers and queers have made it to the ring" before calling Mosh and Thrasher "The Buttbangers".
  • The team of Billy Gunn and Road Dog JUST formed a few weeks ago. At this stage, they look more Voodoo Kin Mafia than New Age Outlaws.
  • Blackjack Windham dominates Phineas Godwinn early on with a series of shoulder tackles and a spinning scoop slam.
  • Road Dog and Billy Gunn are actively pulling away from tags. They've shown that they only care about themselves, so it makes sense that they wouldn't help the Godwinns just because they're also heels.
  • (E) Bradshaw eliminates Henry Godwinn after a beautiful transition from an abdominal stretch into a pinning combination.
  • Blackjack Windham shows off his strength by delivering a gut-wrench suplex to Phineas Godwinn.
  • I appreciate Blackjack Windham going for a cover anytime his opponent is on the mat. He seems to understand the objective of a match better than most.
  • (E) Phineas eliminated Windham after a rebound clothesline. This looked weak and didn't make too much sense considering that Windham was in complete control and had sustained virtually no damage.
  • Mosh takes Phineas to the mat, a smart strategy given their size difference. Jim Ross points out that Mosh has a college degree and was a very good amateur wrestler.
  • (E) Billy Gunn checks into the match and makes quick work of Mosh, eliminating him after reversing a bulldog attempt with a face-first slam of his own.
  • Thrasher and Phineas slow the pace drastically. The match was running at a good clip up until this point.
  • (E) Thrasher builds momentum with a number of arm drags and is able to pin the big man after a Go-Round.
  • Bradshaw tags in and beats the hell out of Road Dog. His move set is limited, but the short lariats and gut-wrench powerbombs look painful.
  • (E) After a distraction by Billy Gunn, Road Dog is able to roll up Bradshaw for the 3-count. Irate, Bradshaw attacks his opponents before sauntering to the back.
  • Road Dog sells Thrasher's punches hilariously.
  • (E) Billy tags Road Dog, but Thrasher does not see it happen. After reversing a pump-handle slam, Thrasher gets hit with a leg drop from the top rope (which Billy Gunn missed by a country mile) and pinned.
  • It was a smart move making the new team the sole survivors.
  • The match was enjoyable and never dragged for too long. It's a shame that the final spot was botched, but it doesn't ruin all of the other good work that was done throughout.

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match

The Truth Commission defeated The Disciples of Apocalypse

3/10

  • This was my least favorite match of the show. It meant nothing ("Gang Warfare" is not a story) and the actual wrestling was mediocre at best.
  • (E) Chainz fights valiantly, but is quickly disposed of by The Interrogator with a sidewalk slam.
  • (E) Recon gets 8-Ball to the mat and tags in The Jackal, who quickly delivers a knee to the throat. Much to his surprise, however, 8-Ball bounces right back up and delivers a sidewalk slam of his own for the elimination.
  • J.R. compares The Jackal to David Koresh.
  • Kevin Nash should have been in this match with all of these sidewalk slams.
  • Commentary does not know if 8-Ball of Skull is in the ring.
  • (E) Recon appears to injure himself after hitting Crush with a shoulder tackle. Skull eliminates Recon after knocking him back down with a clothesline. This whole sequence felt super janky.
  • (E) The weak pins continue as Sniper disposes of Skull with a bulldog. I don't mind the unpredictability, but the pins are happening too quickly and too easily.
  • The crowd is dead quiet. Let's end this soon, please!
  • (E) The Interrogator eliminates 8-Ball with another sidewalk slam.
  • (E) Crush gets one back for the D.O.A when he pins Sniper following a power-slam.
  • (E) The Interrogator comes in and promptly finishes off Crush, and the match with, you guessed it, a sidewalk slam.

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match

Team Canada (British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon) defeated Team USA (Vader, Goldust, Marc Mero and Steve Blackman)

5/10

  • This feud has really cooled down since the summer. I also find it bizarre that Team Canada only features ONE Canadian, Phil LaFon, who was randomly inserted into this story along with Doug Furnas just a couple of weeks ago.
  • Michael Cole interviews Team USA backstage and stumps Vader by asking about the randomness of his team. There is a solid 10-seconds of silence before he responds. During all of this, Steve Blackman looks incredibly uncomfortable and seems unsure if he's allowed to look into the camera.
  • Goldust has "F U" painted on his face, which stands for Forever Unchained. A common thread all night, and one that I loved, was Jim Ross' disgust with Goldust. He was taking shots at him whenever he could.
  • Vader goes to the top rope but gets caught mid-air by Bulldog with a power-slam. Impressive!
  • (E) Blackman tags in and looks good in his first bit of action. His lack of experience is quickly exploited, however, as he fails to re-enter the ring after a melee breaks out at ringside. He is eliminated by count-out.
  • (E) Vader and Neidhart face-off and you can feel the impact every time they collide. Vader gets away with a low blow on an elbow drop and then puts away The Anvil with a splash.
  • It bothers me that Jim Ross uses the phrases "martial arts kick" and "martial arts maneuver" so often.
  • (E) Vader is in complete control and is manhandling Phil LaFon. The lone Canuck is eliminated after a belly-to-belly suplex and splash from the second rope.
  • Marc Mero comes in and hits a dangerous looking moonsault on Doug Furnas. Both men land awkwardly.
  • Furnas and Mero trade punches in the corner. The camera got in close for this exchange and it looked really good.
  • (E) Mero is eliminated after he gets rolled up by Furnas.
  • (E) Goldust refuses to enter the match so Vader slaps him and throws him into the ring. The ref counts this as a legal tag. Goldust rolls out and heads to the back. He is counted out. "Walking out on his country, just like he walked out on his family!" says Good ol' J.R.
  • Vader is putting in yeoman's work.
  • (E) Vader Bomb eliminates Furnas, but with the referee's back turned, Bulldog hits Vader with the ring bell. I have no clue how Jimmy Korderas didn't hear the sound and suspect some kind of wrongdoing.
  • (E) Bulldog pins Vader and wins the match for Team Canada. This effectively sets up Vader to have programs with both Goldust and Bulldog if they so choose.

Singles Match

Kane defeated Mankind

6/10

  • This wasn't an extraordinary match but it continued to established Kane as a monster, made Mankind look strong, was filled with nasty bumps and left the door open for potential rematches.
  • The video packages during this era were tremendous. They really remind you of how compelling and on-point the story and character work are. That said, maybe I'm biased because I didn't have to watch them 10x over on a pre-show.
  • This is the official in-ring debut of Kane.
  • Mankind admits that he is going into the match with the mindset of "I may die trying."
  • The red lighting is cool but it can sometimes make it hard to see what's happening. Jerry Lawler asks why they're even on and J.R. tells him that Kane has a lot of unexplained powers. Definitely not the coolest superpower to have.
  • Mankind attacks Kane before he gets to the ring but is thrown into the steel steps. Kane proceeds to pick up the steps and whips them at Mankind's head. Ouch!
  • Later, back on the outside, Kane charges at Mankind but gets dropped face-first onto those same steps. Mankind looks to capitalize and starts swinging at Kane with a chair.
  • Back in the ring, Mankind is able to get Kane up for a piledriver, but instead of going for the pin, he delivers on a promise and jams the Mandible Claw down Paul Bearer's throat.
  • Kane sits up and launches Mankind from the apron all the way through the Spanish announce table.
  • Mankind somehow continues to fight back and levels Kane with a DDT on the concrete floor. He tries to follow this up with an elbow drop from the top rope, but Kane leaps onto the apron and hurls Mankind to the floor. He landed with a disturbingly loud thud.
  • Kane eventually wins with a Tombstone Piledriver.

Backstage

  • Michael Cole interviews Vince McMahon and Commissioner Slaughter. They say that extra security is in place to ensure that the fight takes place as scheduled.
  • This segment, along with video clips of fans talking about the main event made the show feel even more monumental.

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match

Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson and The Legion of Doom defeated The Nation of Domination

5.5/10

  • Shamrock gets a surprisingly big ovation.
  • (E) Rocky Maivia eliminated Hawk with a Rock Bottom. I don't know that I've ever seen a more expressive wrestler in the ring.
  • The Nation work great as a team, utilizing quick tags to wear down Ahmed Johnson.
  • Jim Ross mentions that Faarooq was one of the best defensive linemen in college football history as Ron Simmons. I enjoy learning about the people I'm watching. It makes me care about them a little bit more.
  • (E) Ahmed Johnson pins Faarooq after connecting on the Pearl River Plunge. Even in 1997 commentary was overusing the call "Out of Nowhere."
  • D'Lo lands a gorgeous frog splash on Ahmed Johnson but walks around taunting rather than pinning his opponent. Ahmed gets up and throws D'Lo around but ultimately allows him to walk back to his corner to make a tag. Poor psychology by both men here.
  • Faarooq, still standing by the ring, grabs Ahmed's foot and pulls him down. This allows Maivia to pin Johnson. I'm not sure why either ref (there was one inside and outside of the ring) allowed this to stand. There was clearly interference by an eliminated competitor. Also, I know he fell face first but are we to believe that Ahmed couldn't get a shoulder up. This was weak. Johnson and Faarooq brawl into the back.
  • Kama and Animal kill the momentum of the match. The crowd also seems to be losing steam.
  • (E) After a "martial arts kick", Kama boasts to Rocky. However, with his back turned, Kama is knocked into Maivia, who goes face first into the barricade. Animal rolls up Kama to even things up.
  • (E) Road Dog and Billy Gunn are seen coming to the ring. Animal greets them but has powder thrown in his face. He is "blinded" and counted out. The feud continues!
  • (E) Shamrock is by himself. He eliminates D'Lo with the ankle lock, but gets hit with a chair by Rocky while the refs aren't looking. Again, how can they be so oblivious to what's happening?
  • Shamrock kicks out at two after the chair shot. I'm glad they didn't end this match the same way as the Canada/USA bout.
  • I bit on a Rock victory after a near three count on a float-over DDT.
  • (E) Shamrock takes down Rocky with an arm-bar and transitions into the ankle lock for the victory. I'm flabbergasted by the push he is getting right now. Within three weeks he has made Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels both tap out and was also the victor at a major PPV.

A commercial plays and we hear what eventually becomes DX's entrance music. It is to promote a future In Your House show.

Intercontinental Championship Match

Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Owen Hart (c)

N/A

  • This entire segment only lasted a few minutes and most of it occurred before the bell. I couldn't possibly give it a rating.
  • Despite being in Canada and facing Owen, Austin's entrance gets a huge ovation.
  • Commentary is playing up Austin's injury, even saying that he had to sign a waiver to compete. This added some doubt as to whether or not he'd be able to win the belt back.
  • Owen is in no hurry to start the match. He is talking with his brother-in-laws (Furnas and LaFon too) and posing with his Slammy Awards outside of the ring.
  • Anvil slips into the ring but gets Stunnered immediately. Owen capitalizes on the distraction and attacks Austin. The match has now officially begun.
  • Owen teases a piledriver but can't get Austin all the way up. In the lead up to Survivor Series he kept saying was that he was going to break Stone Cold's neck again, so it made sense that he try and do it right away.
  • Austin fights back and Owen tries to leave. He doesn't get far before he's pulled back into the ring.
  • Stone Cold stomps a mud-hole in Owen and moments later hits a Stunner for the victory. I couldn't believe how quickly this ended.
  • I know Austin was still hurting but this was a letdown after a fairly entertaining build. 
  • LaFon and Furnas try to jump Austin but both are Stunnered for their troubles.

WWF Attitude commercial airs. The "this is real" spot is still one of their best pieces of marketing. It ends with the new WWF logo with the word "Attitude" underneath.

WWF Championship Match

Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart (c)

7/10

  • I enjoyed this match, but it didn't captivate me the way I was expecting it to. It was hard fought and all, but never felt as vitriolic as it was sold.
  • The camera follows Shawn and Bret from their locker rooms all the way through the curtain. This was a nice touch and showed the intensity and reflective nature of their respective walks to the ring.
  • Bret attacks Shawn before the bell tolls and connects with a series of right hands and headbutts. He sends Michaels over the ropes with a stiff clothesline.
  • Bret and Shawn take turns slamming each other into the ring post, steel steps, commentary table and guard rail. They fight into the crowd but are swarmed by so many people that they are unable to do very much.
  • Vince, Slaughter, Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco and a slew of referee's are all at ringside following the action. You can tell they're anticipating something going wrong.
  • The two men fight all the way up the aisle and into the entrance tunnel. Bret gets the upper hand after a nasty back body drop. Vince is nearby screaming at the Hitman. These first 10 minutes are very chaotic.
  • Somehow we find ourselves back in the ring and the match is finally able to begin. Bret starts off by choking Shawn with a Fleurdelisé.
  • Shawn is smack talking fans in the front row and riles them up to the point that they look like they're about to jump the barricade. Security shows up and holds them back for the remainder of the night.
  • Bret is working on Shawn's left knee. Was there anyone better at working a limb than Bret Hart?
  • Figure-Four leg lock is applied in the middle of the ring, but Shawn is able to turn it over. Bret gets to the ropes to break the hold.
  • Bret continues dominating with a side Russian leg sweep, abdomen attacks and a suplex.
  • With Shawn laid out, Bret goes to the top rope. Just as he jumps, Shawn grabs and uses the referee as a shield.
  • With the referee groggy, Shawn rakes the eyes and puts Bret in the Sharpshooter. Within 3 seconds, and without a tap or verbal "I Quit", the referee calls for the bell. 
  • Bret immediately gets out of the submission and both men are sitting on the mat looking confused. Shawn is visibly upset.
  • Bret spits on Vince and the show goes off the air moments later. I don't know if this was edited or not, but I was hoping to see the infamous WCW signaling and destroying of the commentary monitors.
  • I could go into theories and stories about what went down but it's been done to death by now. If you have anything to add to the conversation please let me know.
  • Raw is going to be interesting tomorrow!

Rating Guide:

10- Perfect, 9- MOTY Territory, 8- Excellent, 7- Great, 6- Good, 5- Average to above average, 4- Slightly below average, 3 or below: Poor

Each match starts at a 5 and slides up and down based on entertainment, execution, time, environment, reaction and stakes. The ratings are in no way an indication of a "star rating," which is a completely different system. A standard, non-offensive "TV match" lands at a 5. The gap between 5.75-6 is generally the largest, with anything reaching 6 being recommended viewing.

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