The Netcop Retro Rant for In Your House: Final Four.
– One word review of CRZ’s column on emzee.com: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
– By request from Chris Bird and Tony Ling, here’s the followup show to Royal Rumble 97, as Austin won the match with mucho controversy, setting up a four-way match with him, Bret Hart, Undertaker and Vader to decide who would get the Wrestlemania title shot. But before that happened, Shawn Michaels showed up on Thursday RAW Thursday and suddenly decided that he had “lost his smileÃ¢â‚¬Â and couldn’t make Wrestlemania to defend the title after all. Hence the title was vacated and put up for grabs in the four-way tonight. In the long run, it turned out that Shawn’s “knee injuryÃ¢â‚¬Â was at the least grossly exaggerated (he made a full recovery a few weeks later) or at the worst completely fabricated. But the wicked hand of karma struck Shawn down one year later, forcing him into retirement for real, showing that God really does have a sense of humor sometimes.
– Live from Chattanooga, TN
– Your hosts are JR & The King.
– Opening match: Marc Mero v. Leif Cassidy. Good ol’ Leif is still around, of course, under his more well-known name: Al Snow. Mero was beginning the heel turn that was supposed to culminate in him winning the IC title from Rocky Maivia at Wrestlemania, but knee injuries derailed that plan, and in fact Mero’s whole career. Slow start sees them fighting on the floor. Meroc comes in with a slingshot legdrop and takes over. Cassidy hurts Mero’s knee and work on it, however. Mero comes back briefly but gets figure-foured. Leif breaks to chase Sable, and Mero hits a tope and mounts the comeback. Shooting Star Press finishes at 8:28. Major yawner. *1/2
– Back to Thursday RAW Thursday as Shawn vacates the WWF title.
– Flash Funk, Bart Gunn & Goldust v. Faarooq, Savio Vega & Crush. This stuff comes from the era of RAW where 99% of it is completely gone from my memory, so if there was an issue I can’t remember it. The pre-match video package does little except to remind me how bad that Skydome show was. Pier-six to start, with Funk hitting a dive on all the NOD. Funk gets a top rope rana on Savio for two, another brawl follows, and Bart helps out by alley-ooping Flash onto the NOD again, but this time he gets caught and killed on the floor. He plays Ricky Morton for a while back in the ring. Lawler gets in a funny line about Crush going shopping and trying to pay for everything with cigarettes. Gunn gets the hot tag and a powerslam on Faarooq for two, and another brawl erupts. Bart reverses the Dominator and gets a bulldog off the top, but Crush legdrops him and Faarooq gets the pin at 6:39. This was nothing. *
– Intercontinental title: Rocky Maivia v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Rocky won the title (despite having no heat or experience) from Hunter (who actually was developing heat) on that Thursday RAW show, and as a result neither guy has heat at this point. Three years later and it’s the WM2000 main event. Life is so f*cked up sometimes. Basic stuff to start. Armdrags abound from Rocky. Another good Lawler one-liner: “HHH is so rich that he takes taxicabs to drive-in moviesÃ¢â‚¬Â. HHH gets a baseball slide and slam on the floor to take over. Rope-assisted chinlock follows, no heat. High knee gets two. Back to the chinlock. Rock tries the comeback but HHH cuts him off. No heat for either guy. HHH gets nailed coming off the top and Rocky comes back for real with punches. No heat. HHH gets a pin attempt in the corner for two. Fucked up floatover DDT gets two. Man, he could have killed HHH with that one. HHH gets his facebuster and a standing neckbreaker for two, but Goldust comes out of the dressing room and distracts HHH, allowing Rock to get a bridged german suplex for the pin at 12:28. No heat. And then in out of all that suck, the moment that changes the face of wrestling forever: A mysterious muscle-bound woman comes from the crowd and chokes out Marlena before getting hauled off by security. That woman became known as Chyna, who then became HHH’s bodyguard, which gave him the heat he’d never been able to draw before, which allowed him to move far enough up the ranks to team up with Shawn Michaels one week, which begat D-Generation X, which turned the WWF into ECW and began the biggest boom in wrestling history. Isn’t this stuff wild to think about sometimes? Match was interesting, because the ending was really good, but the crowd was so not into it that it killed any heat the match might have developed and thus the match came off flatter than Chyna (at that point). **1/4
– WWF World tag team title: Owen Hart & British Bulldog v. Phil Lafon & Doug Furnas. Quick wrestling sequence to start with Owen & Furnas. Owen & Lafon then do a really cool near-fall sequence beginning with a monkey-flip from Owen and flowing from move-to-move into an anklelock from Lafon. The champs cheat and double-team Lafon. Owen gets a side salto and backbreaker for two. Owen works on the leg. Rockerplex (vertical suplex from Bulldog with Owen doing a flying bodypress) gets two. Lafon cradles Owen, but Bulldog pushes them over, then Furnas pushes them over again, giving Lafon a two count. Owen and Bulldog start arguing until Bulldog finally snaps and turns on Owen, giving Lafon a two count. Furnas gets the hot tag and destroys Owen as Bulldog comes to his senses and makes the save. Northern Lights suplex gets two, rana gets two, an awesome double-team series gets two (about 5 moves ending with a DDT and legdrop). A desperate Owen finally gets an enzuigiri to stop the momentum, and now the crowd is CHEERING for the heels. Wild. Bulldog comes back in and a pier-six erupts until Bulldog goes for the powerslam on Lafon, at which point Owen grabs a Slammy and nails Lafon before the move can be finished, drawing the DQ at 10:28. What a horrible ending to a great match. ***3/4 Owen & Bulldog argue some more after the match, setting up the Bulldog face turn that never happened.
– WWF title match: Vader v. Undertaker v. Steve Austin v. Bret Hart. Consider this a mini-Rumble where pinfalls count. Vader & UT pair off, as do Austin & Hart. Vader takes a chairshot early and starts gushing from around his eye. Meanwhile, Bret kills Austin. Back in and we switch as Austin hits a fluke Stunner on UT for two. Vader opens up on Bret as Austin & UT brawl on the floor. Vader takes out UT, so Austin goes after him, too, dropping the stairs on his head. They engage in a wild brawl as Vader bleeds all over the place. Switch again, Vader brawls with Bret and Austin takes UT in the ring. All four end up outside, then back in. Hart piledrives Austin for two. Vader misses the moonsault on UT. Austin & Bret try to throw each other out. More carnage. Bret & Vader have a wild slugfest that ends with Bret punching him right in the bloodied eye to knock him down. Ouch. Austin nearly pushes UT out to the horror of the crowd. UT tries to return the favor, then Bret does the deed himself, dumping Austin out about 18 minutes in. More on that later. Bret & UT slug it out, and Vader clips UT. Vader & Bret then go at it, and that goes badly for Bret. Vader goes upstairs and gets superplexed. Sharpshooter, but UT saves. Steve Austin limps back out to assault Bret some more. Meanwhile, Vader goes for the pump splash and UT sits up and casually pushes him over and out about 21 minutes in. That leaves Bret and UT. Chokeslam, but Austin is back again. UT tries to tombstone Bret, but Austin pushes them over. Bret snaps and goes after Austin, then UT goes after them both, and Bret sneaks out and pushes UT over and out to capture his fourth WWF title at 24:01. It would last 24 hours before he lost it to Sid on RAW the next night. ****1/2
The Bottom Line: It actually was supposed to be AUSTIN who won the match and the title on this show, and he was supposed to job it to Sid with BRET being the one who interfered the next night. But Austin blew out his knee mid-match and had to take himself out of it, leaving Bret to win a hastily re-booked match and get a footnote for a title reign. In the long run, it’s probably best that it happened that way.
Overall, the WWF was about a month away from hitting their absolute lowest point ever, so while the wrestling wasn’t horrible, the heat for almost everything was non-existant. Still, the tag title and WWF title matches are great, and for a two-hour show you can’t ask much more than that.