– I have absolutely no idea why this travesty of a show is so highly requested Ã¢â‚¬â€œ perhaps because no one ordered it in 1997? This is the followup show to Survivor Series 1997, as the WWF makes a half-assed attempt to elevate some people to fill the gaping vacuum left by the departure of Bret Hart. History would show that they already knew who they wanted to elevate and thus the performance of anyone else wouldn’t really matter, thus making the whole show an exercise in pointless booking and general pigheaded stupidity. This era is also notable for being Shawn Michaels’ last brush with having influence in the business before fading into the background and being forgotten by the WWF’s core fanbase. Some people DO get what they deserve in the end.
– Live from Springfield, MA
– Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler.
– Just to give you a quick overview of what we’re dealing with here, unlike the watered-down version that’s been kicking around since 1998, the original incarnation of D-Generation X was truly revolutionary, breaking about 15 different rules of conduct on WWF TV (and, on more than one instance, kayfabe itself) and ended up being so crazy over as heels as a result that even HHH was drawing heat. This used to be a RARE thing, for those who don’t know. So, as is the December PPV tradition, the WWF named a show after them and rolled the dice.
– Opening match, Light Heavyweight title finals: Taka Michinoku v. Brian Christopher. Oddly, Brian has Droz/Prince Albert’s music. Christopher starts right in with the stalling, killing the match right out of the starting gate. A wristlock sequence leads to yet more stalling. Taka flips out of a german suplex and a pair of dropkicks send Christopher to the floor, and Taka follows with the awesome springboard plancha that he hasn’t busted out in a while. Brian crotches him on the top rope and knocks him to the floor. He tries a plancha, but misses and rams his mouth into the railing, drawing impressive blood from his mouth. Back in, Taka misses a missile dropkick and gets hammered, but a blind charge from Brian misses. Taka gets a tornado DDT for two, and a rana sends Christopher fleeing. Taka follows with a quebrada. Lawler gets involved, rolling Christopher back in, which allows Taka to hit two seated dropkicks. Christopher comes back with the Stroke and some choking. Ligerbomb gets two, reversed by Taka for two. Brian gets a missile dropkick, but stalls again. Fameasser, and MORE stalling. This is getting ridiculous, as Brian is trying all his cheap Memphis tactics to get a rise out of the Russoized crowd. Backbreaker gets two. Christopher uses the Bossman sliding punch for some reason (a shot at then-WCW employee Ray Traylor?) and slaps Taka around. Brian mocks the Japanese by threatening to use his hamster-style on Taka (if you don’t get the reference, consider yourself lucky), then gets a lariat and STALLS AGAIN. He finally covers for two. What a boring match. Christopher hits a release german suplex and stalls AGAIN. Standing legdrop gets two. Powerslam sets up the Tennessee Jam (the current Hip Hop Drop), which misses, and Taka gets the Michinoku Driver to finish and win the title at 12:00. This was pretty much the worst way to start off the title as you could hope for, short of Brian actually winning the thing. Christopher absolutely buried the match with his Memphis crap, when it was totally unwarranted. *1/2 for some highspots and not much else.
– Los Boriquas v. DOA. Hey, when did Undertaker have kids? For the four of you who care, it’s Jose, Jesus and Miguel against Chainz, 8-Ball and Skull here. Suffice it to say, it’s a Boriquas v. DOA match, and I have better things to do with my time than boring you with the details. Truism from JR here: “By any name, [the DOA] are bad!” Resting and punching abound, Savio tries to make an illegal substiution, and the Boriquas steal a win with a cheapshot on Chainz at 7:55. Next, PLEASE. DUD
– Toughman match: Butterball v. Marc Mero. Vince couldn’t legally promote this as “boxing”, because the state athletic commission felt that if they granted him the necessary boxing license, he’d (gasp) fix the matches. Who ever heard of the upstanding citizens who run boxing fixing matches? Why, the community would be scandalized if it were discovered that someone like Don King were anything less than a saint. Anyway, sarcasm aside, the net result is that we get a “Toughman” match, which legally speaking is so vague a term that the commission couldn’t actually prevent Vince from going through with it, however much I wish they had so I didn’t have to watch it. The perceptive New England crowd starts right in with the “boring” chant before the bell even rings, thus proving themselves clairvoyent. The major advantage of being the “buck stops here” all-powerful head of the WWF is that you can keep order yourself and completely control your own destiny. The disadvantage is that when you end up with a massive brainfart like this nonsense, none of your underlings have the balls to tell you so. The major logic gap, which Vince completely missed, in having a worked boxing match is as follows:
There are two possible types of fan in the audience for this sort of thing: Boxing and wrestling.
Boxing fans will IMMEDIATELY notice that the punches are being pulled and will boo the match.
Wrestling fans don’t want to see boxing to begin with, and will boo the match.
Thus, one can accurately predict that everyone will hate the match before having seen it.
– Round one: Bunch of stalling and phantom punches. Whee.
– Round two: Mero attacks with a high knee, thus ending any speculation about whether this is worked or not. Mero dropkicks Butterball from behind as the round ends.
– Round three: Buttball no-sells Marc’s worked punches, and then comes back with some equally whiffed non-punches, completely disgusting the crowd. This is the EXACT opposite of Canadian Violence. If there were a parallel universe like in Star Trek, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho would be exchanging these kind of fake-looking “punches”, and would both have Kevin Nash goatees. Butterball finally loads up the fat in his right arm and lets loose with a Popeye Special Twister Punch (what the f*ck, the match is already exposed as fake six ways from Sunday anyway) to put Mero on the mat. He’s saved by the bell, though.
– Round four: Butterball knocks Mero silly again, so Mero goes low to draw a DQ (in a Toughman match?) and destroys him with a stool. Thankfully, we didn’t have to see Butterball’s second contractually obligated appearance until WM15, when he legally killed Bart Gunn.
– Cultural Enhancement moment: The Artist Formerly Known as Goldust and Mistress Luna read us some “Green Eggs and Ham” while wearing disturbing pink lace numbers. Why yes, people DID pay $30 for this show, why do you ask?
– WWF tag title match: “Road Dog” Jesse Jammes & “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn v. The Legion of Doom. “Road Dog” and “Bad Ass” were the official spellings before someone in legal decided they should be “Road Dogg” and “Badd Ass” for trademark reasons. The not-quite-New Age Outlaws were Vince Russo’s pet project, as he wanted to take two semi-talented jobbers and turn them into the team of the 90s. I almost feel dirty saying this, but they remind me a lot of the Perfect Event, in that they’re two mouthy young punks who will do anything to get over. Sean Stasiak is even dressing like Billy Gunn. Funny bit as the LOD charges, but the Outlaws back off and go back to the dressing room to do some stretching. We finally get going as Animal kills Road Dogg. Dogg bails and catches Hawk with a cheapshot, which is of course no-sold. Outlaws stall some more, so Hawk clotheslines them both off the apron. Good spot. Dogg gets beat up to silence for a bit. Animal powerbomb gets two. Dogg bails and the champs stall some more. Gunn lowblows Hawk as Dogg hits him with a cooler full of drinks, and THAT’S enough to convince Hawk to sell. Back in, Road Dogg does a sort of prototype of the Worm. Hawk gets beat on for a while, all kicking and punching, none of it sold with any enthusiasm by Hawk. Gunn distracts the ref while Henry Godwinn runs in, with a slop bucket. Hawk steals it and gets DQ’d at 10:29. I HATE that finish, because it makes the champs look totally inept, doesn’t help the LOD’s dwindling heat any, and is completely indecisive, thus necessitating ANOTHER crappy match between the teams at Royal Rumble. -*
– Boot Camp match: Sgt. Slaughter v. HHH. Can’t fault Sarge for effort, that’s for sure. For those not up on D-X history, the early days of the group consisted mainly of them (Shawn & HHH) tormenting poor Commisioner Slaughter, who was ill-equipped to deal with the abuse. Once Vince became Evil Vince, however, he was a de facto heel, thus negating the entire feud. But that was yet to come, so here we have the blowoff of the D-X v. Slaughter feud. The Sarge has Kurt Angle’s generic “USA” music and no pop. Slugfest to start and Slaughter beats HHH with a riding crop. The announcers try on “Triple H” like a new pair of loafers that they haven’t quite broken in yet. Slaughter drops HHH and they “brawl” outside, with HHH taking all the bumps while Slaughter waddles around. Into the ring, Slaughter does the standard whip-and-choke Hogan crap with his belt. Clothesline gets two, and HHH blocks the cobra clutch. Slaughter takes his trademark corner bump and hits the floor. They head into the crowd, but go back to ringside as Slaughter realizes the dire consequences of removing one’s belt when one has a huge gut. Yes, his pants start falling down. HHH blasts the timekeeper with his own bell, then Slaughter, and we head back in for some more belt action. HHH nails Slaughter with a chain, for two. I don’t know if I’m adequately expressing to you, the reader, how incredibly SLOW AND BORING this match is. Slaughter charges (in the loosest sense of the word) and gets backdropped out. HHH heads upstairs to try that dreaded heel finisher: The leap off the top that always lands on the face’s outstretched foot. I don’t know if that move is supposed to maybe damage the face’s foot or something, but it never seems to work. Slaughter goes to the top, and gets slammed off. EARTHQUAKE! Everyone get down! That gets two for HHH, and we liven up the proceedings with a sleeperhold. Slaughter ruins the illusion somewhat by constantly yanking up his pants. He then reverses to the cobra clutch, a move NO ONE is buying today. Chyna runs in to break it up, and decks the ref. Slaughter tosses powder in her eyes (oh, good god ), but gets nailed by HHH’s boot. He fights up, puts HHH in the cobra clutch again, and gets blindsided by Chyna with a lowblow, and a Pedigree puts everyone out of their misery at 17:36. I don’t know who gave this shit 18 minutes, but they’re off my Xmas card list, let me tell you -**
– Jeff Jarrett v. The Undertaker. Jarrett had jumped from WCW a few weeks prior, and given all the buildup to his first match, everyone assumed it’d be something memorable. No, really, stop laughing. Historical buffs take note: The Aztec Warrior costume debuted here for JJ. UT has his way with Jarrett, quickly hitting the ropewalk. JJ clips him and works the knee. UT makes the comeback, getting two off a legdrop. Light out, here comes Kane. He chokeslams Jarrett to get to Undertaker, but that’s a DQ win for Jarrett at 2:52. Yes, there was actually someone who honestly thought THIS was how they’d get Jarrett over. The match, as it was, was merely an excuse to have Kane run in. Ã‚Â½*
– Intercontinental title match: Steve Austin v. “The Rock” Rocky Maivia. This is actually the match that turned the WWF around for good. Whereas the Montreal double-cross eliminated Bret Hart as a player, this match turned Steve Austin from midcarder into main eventer in one fell swoop and gave Rocky the credibility he had been so sorely lacking. This is one of the matches I’ll discuss in greater detail in the upcoming book, Buzz on Wrestling, due to be published February 2001 and available in bookstores everywhere. The setup was pretty standard and didn’t set anyone’s world on fire when it occurred: The WWF needed a new challenger for the I-C title, and wanted to elevate the Rock, so they had him steal the title from Austin on an episode of RAW and just generally be an arrogant little pain in the ass. Ass-whoopings commenced, many of which involved large vehicles being driven into the ring, beer was consumed, and beepers were paged with messages reading only “316”. By the time the show came around, people were actually buying this as a legitimate feud. This is the famous match where Austin drives the “3:16” pickup truck to ringside and parks it there, thus completely waking the crowd up and whipping them into a frenzy. The Nation jumps Austin, but he backdrops D-Lo through the windshield (an awesome visual that had the advantage of not causing any serious damage to D-Lo) and then delivers a Stunner on the roof. Slugfest in the ring, and Austin gets the Thesz press, which is countered by Rocky for a pinning combination for two, and again by Austin for two. I have NEVER seen that done again after this match. Austin hits the floor and the Nation jumps him, but get sent into the truck. Back in, Rocky takes over with a standing elbow and a ballshot. Crowd informs Rocky that, in case he wasn’t aware and needed reminding, he sucks. The (unnamed) People’s Elbow gets two. Into the chinlock. Austin comes back, but gets cut off. People’s Elbow #2 misses, and Austin stunners the ref by mistake. Rocky takes a second attempt (with another ref running in) for the pin at 5:31. Fun, but too short, match. The length was due to Austin’s injuries. **1/2 The next night on RAW, Vince McMahon used the ref bump to overturn the decision and award the title to Rocky, triggering a war with Steve Austin, and the rest is history.
– WWF title match: Shawn Michaels v. Ken Shamrock. This had “bad idea” written all over it from the get-go, but at that point they figured they might as well try to recoup some money on their investment in Shamrock. Shawn escapes a press slam, but takes a kick to the head and bails, and stalls. Back in, Shamrock gets a hiptoss and backdrop, and Shawn bails again. Shawn hammers Shamrock in the corner, but Ken hits his own offense and Shawn bails AGAIN. I sense less than the usual effort from HBK tonight. Shamrock blocks a sunset flip and pounds on Shawn. We head outside again, where HHH lays in some shots and Shawn follows with a tope. They brawl, but Chyna shoves Shamrock into the ringpost, and slams him. Back in, Shawn works on the back. Dropkick gets two. Shawn bodypress is reversed for two, and Shawn goes to a chinlock. Geez, when does Michaels EVER go to a chinlock? He switches to a sleeper for some reason. Shamrock comes backs with two cross-corner clotheslines and a powerslam for two. Mini pinning sequence gets two for Shamrock. Ligerbomb gets two. D-X pounds on Shamrock, allowing Shawn to hit the flying elbowsmash. Sweet Chin Music misses, and the anklelock results, and the nW er, D-X runs in for the cheap DQ at 18:26. Words cannot express how lame it is to have a DQ finish for a near-20 minute match that was dragging badly to begin with. Total brainfart on someone’s part here, as it looked like Shawn was none too happy about working with Shamrock and Shamrock was confused as all hell without Shawn to hold his hand through the whole match. Your basic trainwreck, in short. **1/4 for some decent stuff here and there.
– Shawn and his buddies gloat, and then out of nowhere comes the AWOL Owen Hart, sending Shawn flying into the announce table, and then jumping down to beat the hell out of him before jumping into the crowd to escape! This had “money match” for the Rumble written all over it, but Shawn didn’t really want to work with Owen, and newly minted main eventer Steve Austin REALLY didn’t want to work with Owen, so he ended up getting screwed over in the midcard until his death in 1999. That, my friends, is why politics sucks Ã¢â‚¬â€œ you never know if the guy you’re holding back for petty reasons today will be gone tomorrow without ever getting the same shot you did. Certain people in the business would do well to think about that.
The Bottom Line: I suppose if given a choice between renting this and, say, “Best of Herb Abram’s UWF Vol. 4: The Orndorff Era” it might be a tough call, but otherwise
Strongest recommendation to avoid.