Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: The Original D-Generation X – WWF, 1997-1998
This one began at the 1997 Summerslam. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart were in a heated feud that had led them both to the main event. It was Bret Hart (who was at the peak of his anti-American gimmick at the time) vs. the Undertaker (WWF World Champion) with Shawn Michaels as the guest referee. Michaels, however, had been forced to be fair in his officiating.
The match was a see-saw event until Michaels was out of the ring. Bret grabbed a chair and clocked Undertaker with it. Michaels spotted the chair and confronted Bret with it. Bret spit in Michaels’s face. HBK swung, Bret ducked, and he blasted the Undertaker. Bret covered, and Michaels was forced to count the three and award his rival the world title.
A week later, Shawn’s cockiness was at an all time high. He bragged to new WWF Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter that he would have an “insurance policy” at ringside for his match that night, and even invited Undertaker (who he was scheduled to meet at the next pay-per-view: Ground Zero) to watch.
In the main event, Shawn Michaels took on Mankind. They were brawling on the outside when Hunter Hearst Helmsley and his bodyguard Chyna made their way down to the ring. Strangely enough, they didn’t interfere.
Mankind was fighting back when Rick Rude (wearing a business suit) made his way down the ramp and blasted Mankind with a chair. That gave Michaels the opening he needed to hit the Sweet Chin Music for the win. Then Undertaker’s music started and he came down to the ring. That brought Paul Bearer up on the Titantron, who again tormented Undertaker by reminding him that his brother Kane was coming. And that ended the show.
The next week it was scheduled for Shawn Michaels to team with Hunter against Mankind and Undertaker (over Michaels’s heated protests to Slaughter). Michaels tried everything to keep out of the match (including trying to convince a cameraman to take his place in the match).
Rick Rude made his way down to ringside as we went to commercial. When we came back, Michaels and Helmsley were easily dominating Mankind (thanks to Chyna’s occasional interference). Finally Mankind made the tag and Undertaker came in to destroy Michaels and Helmsley. Michaels blasted Undertaker with a chair (splitting him open in the process) and Undertaker sat up. Michaels did it again and Taker sat up again. That was enough for Michaels. He and his crew cleared out.
After a couple of weeks where Raw was moved to Fridays (and not much happened), we arrived at Ground Zero. Shawn Michaels took on the Undertaker in the main event. Michaels was fighting for his life until Rick Rude appeared and slid Michaels some brass knuckles. HBK popped Taker with them and got two, so he rolled Taker outside where Chyna and Hunter were waiting. In the end, since referee after referee was getting knocked out, a fourth ref ran in and gave the match to Undertaker via DQ. From there, the whole thing degenerated into carnage that involved officials and most of the roster to end the show.
The main event of Raw the next night was a three-way – Savio Vega (replacing the British Bulldog) vs. the Patriot vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Shawn Michaels on commentary). Finally Michaels interfered to give the win to Helmsley. That brought out the Boricuas to attack. Then the Harts came out to attack. The show ended in another huge brawl.
After a Raw where Shawn ran his mouth, we were back a week later for a notable show (because of the return of Cactus Jack vs. Hunter – in a totally unrelated way to DX). Michaels came out to the ring and finally got Undertaker to come out. Hunter tried to jump him from behind but failed as Taker continued on his way. In the ring, Taker was attacked by Michaels, Helmsley (again), and Rick Rude. Taker fought off all three and left them lying.
The next week Vince McMahon met with the four in the ring to open Raw. First, Rude offered to protect McMahon from Steve Austin – for a price. Shawn talked about the upcoming hell in a cell match against the Undertaker (at Badd Blood), and then spent the rest of the interview jumping behind Vince and flicking his ears. Hunter got the microphone and rambled for a while, which brought out Slaughter to advise Michaels to watch himself. That brought out the Hart Foundation, who threatened Michaels for a while.
In the main event it was Hunter vs. the Undertaker. Bret Hart and the British Bulldog attacked Undertaker until the Patriot and Vader ran them off, at which time Michaels and Hunter took over. Despite the two-on-one advantage, Undertaker was managing to fight back until Rick Rude joined in. He was carrying a body bag that they stuffed Undertaker into. Taker sat up and got out of the bag as Michaels and his crew ran for it. Undertaker wound up tombstoning Hunter on the ramp while Michaels climbed the Titantron to get away.
Shawn Michaels met the Undertaker in the main event of Badd Blood the following Sunday. I’m sure that everyone reading this is familiar with the Hell in the Cell match, so we’ll skip it by saying HBK won after Kane attacked. If you haven’t seen the match, you owe it to yourself to track a copy down.
Two weeks later (after a strange Raw following the untimely death of Brian Pillman the day before), Michaels and Helmsley took up commentary duties while Owen Hart was taking on Kama (better known as Charles Wright – the Godfather). They pointed out that the week before Helmsley had managed to beat Bret Hart while Michaels served as an outside distraction with such antics as sticking the Canadian flag up his nose). The Harts finally got fed up with Michaels and went after him – which took them right into the Nation of Domination. They brawled as Michaels and Helmsley made their getaway.
Hunter was scheduled to take on the Patriot later, but Michaels and Helmsley destroyed him before he could even make it to the ring. Michaels tried to declare Hunter the winner, but Commissioner Slaughter ruled that there would be a substitute – Ahmed Johnson. Fortunately for Hunter, the Nation of Domination jumped Ahmed as he headed toward the ring while Shawn and Hunter just sat down and ate popcorn.
The next week’s Raw opened with Michael Cole showing off the Nation of Domination’s locker room – which had been vandalized and was covered with pro-Canadian graffiti. Did the Harts do it, or was DX trying to frame them? We’d never get a definite answer.
Anyway, later in the night we had Owen Hart (the Intercontinental champion) taking on Shawn Michaels (European champion) in a title vs. title match. Shawn Michaels was getting ready to put Owen away when, for some reason, Steve Austin ran in and hit the referee with a Stunner. That brought Bret out to attack Michaels, which brought out Helmsley, Rude, and Chyna, which brought out the Harts, etc.
The next week Bret Hart was taking on Shamrock. He had Shamrock locked in the Sharpshooter when Michaels ran out and attacked.
Later, the gang was in their locker room when Rick Rude did an interview. Bored, Michaels spun around and mooned the camera while Hunter tried to cover him with a sign that had an X on it.
The next week Rude introduced the DX gang for an interview. Michael Cole was trying to conduct it while Chyna got down on her hands and knees behind him, then Hunter pushed him over her. As Cole left, Shawn and Hunter started talking about how old Hulk Hogan was. Slaughter came out to break this up. Michaels and Hunter put on face masks (with windshield wipers) and Slaughter gave Michaels a match against Shamrock that night.
HBK took on Shamrock in the main event. Shamrock was dominating until he was tossed outside for some three-on-one action. When they got back into the ring, Shamrock was in firm control – until Rude smacked Shamrock with his briefcase to draw the DQ.
That brought us to the infamous 1997 Survivor Series. Needless to say, the main event concluded in a controversial fashion. Shawn Michaels walked away the WWF champion. Bret Hart simply walked away to WCW.
The next night on Raw, Michaels was in rare form. He took full credit to running Bret Hart off, and mentioned that Bret would have to deal with “his friends” “down South.” That brought Shamrock out to insult everybody, which brought Slaughter out to announce that HBK would meet Shamrock at the next PPV. By the way, Hunter was fighting him tonight. And, oh yeah, Slaughter would be at ringside to prevent any shenanigans.
Rude brought out DX for the main event, but Slaughter sent all of them except Hunter back to the dressing room. Hunter continued to argue with Slaughter, which would continue to give Shamrock the advantage. Rude came out, but Slaughter stopped him on the ramp. That allowed Michaels and Chyna to sneak in and clock Shamrock with Rude’s briefcase for the win.
The next Monday was an eventful one for Rude, as he became the first person to appear on both Nitro (live) and Raw (taped). Shawn ranted again about running Bret off, and then Hunter started insulting Slaughter, who came out and was easily beaten down by all of DX. Later in the night, Slaughter would get his revenge, as he made a Boot Camp match between himself and Helmsley at the D-Generation X PPV.
The next week, “Handsome” Harvey Whippleman made his way out to Rude’s old music and introduced DX. Michaels noted that “That job was easy to fill” as he ran Whippleman off. Michaels then went on to say that Bret Hart was still under WWF contract, and would appear tonight to settle the score between himself and Michaels for good.
The second hour started with Michaels facing Bret – well, a midget in a Bret mask, anyway. That brought Jim Neidhart out to threaten Michaels, who responded with a title shot. Michaels then went one step further, offering Neidhart a spot in DX! Neidhart returned to the back, looking thoughtful.
Michaels was taking on Vader in the main event when he announced that Neidhart had joined DX! Vader went down easily when Hunter threw coffee in his face, then Chyna low-blowed the celebrating Neidhart and DX beat him down.
The next week Shawn Michaels came out in a wheelchair. First, Hunter ranted about Slaughter for a while, and then Michaels talked about his preparation for his match with Shamrock (whose finisher was the ankle lock). To demonstrate, Hunter began twisting Michaels’s (obviously fake) foot around and around.
Hunter took on Neidhart in the main event. Neidhart was no match for DX who laid him on his stomach and (in a mockery of the NWO’s trademark) spray painted WCW on his back. After that, Slaughter and Shamrock attacked their respective opponents for the PPV while Neidhart held Chyna back. That was the last time we’d see Neidhart in a WWF ring.
That brought us to the D-Generation X pay-per-view. Slaughter lost his Boot Camp match when Hunter pedigreed him on a chair. In the main event, Michaels was preparing to hit something on Shamrock (who was on the floor) when something hit him from behind, sending him from the apron into an announce table. The camera pans back to reveal – it was the returning Owen Hart!
The next night on Raw, DX made their way out to the ring – for a game of strip poker. They moved to the floor as Skull and Eight Ball of the DOA took on Jose and Miguel of the Boricuas. The Headbangers made their way out for the next match and the game had moved back into the ring. They overturned the table and DX attacked. Then Owen hit the ring and went after Michaels.
The following Raw opened with Undertaker talking to Michael Cole, where it was announced that the Taker would face Shawn Michaels at the Royal Rumble. Then Kane came out. Kane slapped Taker while Paul Bearer ranted (Taker had sworn he’d never fight Kane). Taker blocked a second slap, then left.
The main event featured Michaels and Helmsley going up against the Legion of Doom. Everything was going Hawk and Animal’s way when the Road Dogg and Billy Gunn (BG and Kip James) hit the ring while Hawk was on the outside. They knocked him out with ether and then joined in the attack on Animal. Afterward, they rolled Hawk into the ring and began shaving his Mohawk while Michaels watched and obviously enjoyed what he saw.
Raw opened up a week later as Hunter and Michaels came out wearing bathrobes. They lost the bathrobes to reveal that they were boxer shorts. Then the boxers came off and they were wearing thongs. They spun around to reveal something that the censors helpfully blocked out. That brought Slaughter out, who reminded Michaels he had to defend the European title within 30 days or be stripped of it. Slaughter then reminded Michaels that he hadn’t defended the title in 60. So Slaughter set up a match – Michaels vs. Hunter.
The match opened the second hour, only for Owen to attack Michaels, which led both Hunter and Michaels to accuse Slaughter of being in cahoots with Owen.
The match happened again for the main event. This time Michaels laid down for Hunter to pin him. Just like that – new European champion. So Slaughter made a match for the next week where Owen got a Euro title shot.
The next week Hunter came down on crutches and said that he couldn’t compete because he’d dislocated his kneecap the night before. Some of the Undertaker’s druids pushed a casket to the ring, and then Michaels popped out of it! Michaels and Hunter burned some time talking about Chyna’s recent boob job, which gave Slaughter a chance to make it to the ring and give Owen a world title shot.
Owen had the match well in hand until Hunter hobbled out and hit Owen with one of his crutches. Then all three members of DX jumped Owen.
The next week Savio Vega took on Owen. The Boricuas swarmed the ring and beat Owen up, then dragged him up the ramp to where DX was waiting. Once there, Hunter happily paid off Savio.
At the end of the show, Shawn went out to the ring and begged Undertaker to come out. Sure enough, the casket rolled out. Shawn laughed and told Hunter and Chyna to knock it off, until Hunter and Chyna appeared at the top of the ramp. The casket opened and Undertaker came out and dragged Michaels into it with him.
DX made their way out later (after a brief visit to trash Owen, which Owen showed up to ruin) to talk about their newest member – Kane! This brought Undertaker out, who was not happy. The three of them soon had the advantage on Taker, when Kane came out and ran DX off! Kane then saluted Undertaker with his kneeling pose, which Undertaker returned.
That brought us to the Royal Rumble. Shawn Michaels defeated the Undertaker in the casket match with the help of DX (who was in it to help Michaels) and Kane (who just wanted to attack the Undertaker). After the match, Kane and Bearer locked Taker in the casket and then set it on fire.
The next night Michaels talked about how horrible he felt about what had happened to the Undertaker. He volunteered DX to find him. Their first stop was a hearse. They opened it and a bunch of women jumped out to pull Michaels and Helmsley back in.
Finally it appeared they had found him. The lights dimmed as Hunter pointed at something off camera and we went to commercial. When we came back, Undertaker stepped out from the back – until the DX music hit and Taker stripped off his robe, revealing Shawn Michaels. Out came Hunter and Chyna with a barbecue grill. They threw the Taker gear and some marshmallows onto the grill, and then put on chef hats to run down Undertaker, Owen, Ric Flair, and Steve Austin.
Later in the night, they introduced themselves to Mike Tyson, who would be attacked by Austin later in the program.
A week later, DX was in the locker room. Michaels was considering giving the main event up for an Austin/Tyson match – perhaps with himself as the guest ref.
Owen was scheduled for a European title shot against Hunter later in the evening. As we talked about a few weeks ago, however, he got Goldust dressed up like Hunter. Owen won, and since Goldust had been Hunter’s proxy, Slaughter ruled that Owen was the new European champ.
The next week Shawn’s plan shifted into high gear as DX dressed in red, white, and blue, and started politicking in the ring for a Tyson/Austin match at Wrestlemania. Austin came out and said that, while he did want Tyson, his next stop would be a title shot.
The show ended with the New Age Outlaws getting attacked by Austin. That brought out DX to attack Austin, and then Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk) came out to attack the Outlaws.
The next week Austin headed to the ring with a bag in his hand. He talked about wanting his title shot. He said that he had the world title, and pulled it out of the bag. Michaels reached into his own bag, and pulled out a toy belt. Austin then invited DX to come to the ring to get it.
Backstage, Chyna again recruited the Boricuas to help take out Austin.
Later in the show, the Boricuas went into a room, only to have Austin slam the door shut and padlock it closed behind them.
At the end of the show, DX hit the ring to demand the title be returned, Austin joined them, the Outlaws attacked, Chyna got the belt, Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack attacked the Outlaws, and DX decided to exercise the better part of valor.
That brought us to the No Way Out PPV (on a side note – WCW forced them to actually change the name of the show to avoid the NWO letters – in all advertising, it was referred to as No Way Out (of Texas)). The problem was that Michaels was injured, taking him out of the eight-man main event.
The main event turned out to be Austin, Owen, Cactus, and Charlie taking on the Outlaws, Hunter, and Savio Vega (replacing Michaels). The match felt like something out of ECW as it immediately degenerated into chaos. Austin pinned Billy Gunn, then Chyna tried to interject herself. Austin ignored her until she shot him the double bird, which caused Austin to hit her with the stunner.
It took three weeks for DX to start their antics again. After deciding to make Wrestlemania X-Rated (later X-Raided), they were back in action on March’s first Raw. Vince McMahon was interviewing Mike Tyson (the Austin/Michaels match’s special enforcer) when Michaels hit the ring. He and Tyson got into a shoving match, and then Michaels ripped off Tyson’s shirt – to reveal a DX t-shirt.
The next week Michaels wasn’t there, so HHH and Chyna took a seat on commentary for an Owen Hart-Barry Windham match. Finally they’d had enough, so Chyna low-blowed Owen to draw the Windham DQ, and then Bradshaw ran in to attack Windham (his former tag team partner).
In the main event, HHH was scheduled to take on Savio Vega. Austin hit the ring immediately and dropped Vega before going after Hunter, which allowed Shawn Michaels to hit the ring and drop Austin with Sweet Chin Music. HHH climbed onto Austin and began punching while Michaels grabbed a chair.
The next Tuesday (Raw was preempted), HHH goaded the injured Owen into a match and won the European title after Chyna hit him in his hurt leg with a baseball bat.
DX and Tyson razzed Austin the next week, helping the build for the big showdown.
That brought us to Wrestlemania XIV. First up, Hunter took on Owen for the European title with the added stipulation that Chyna was handcuffed to Slaughter at ringside. Chyna blinded Slaughter with some powder, then low-blowed Owen to allow HHH to hit the pedigree for the pin.
Then we arrived at the main event. Austin and Michaels had an epic match until Austin hit the stunner and Tyson counted the pinfall. After the match, Michaels protested – until one punch from Tyson sent the former champ down again.
The next night DX would be reformed. HHH would seize the reigns after Michaels left and assemble the group’s most famous roster – himself, Chyna, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, and X-Pac (Sean Waltman). The next night would also be the first time in over a year that the WWF won the ratings battle with WCW.
DX was obviously the WWF’s response to the New World Order. The difference was that while the NWO simply wanted to roll over everybody, DX had that youth factor in its leadership that the NWO’s leaders like Hall, Nash, and Hogan lacked.
Michaels and Hunter (formerly a Greenwich snob) reinvented themselves as the guys who knew in high school who ran their mouths and got away with it – mostly due to the one hulking friend who’d take out anyone in their way (Chyna). It catapulted HHH to the main event, and also made a star out of Chyna.
They were guys you either loved or hated. It was a short ride, but what a ride it was.
Where are they now?
Shawn Michaels left the WWF after Wrestlemania for back surgery to repair years of abuse. He retired from the ring, and only returned to active competition in 2002. Today he is still in the WWE on the Raw brand.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley has become one of the most hated professional wrestlers today. Rumors fly of his skill at using political power to bury opponents, and they were only magnified when he married Stephanie McMahon, Vince’s daughter. Today he remains on the Raw brand.
Chyna (Joanie Laurer) found herself in a unique position after DX broke up. She became an active competitor, and even acquired Miss Kitty (Stacy Carter)’s services as kind of a “Mini-Chyna” character. In 2001 Laurer left the WWF and competed briefly in Japan before becoming known as a B-List celebrity after her appearance on VH1’s Surreal Life. She was briefly engaged to Sean Waltman, and wound up releasing a sex tape the two of them had made together.
Rick Rude debuted on Nitro on November 17th, 1997, reportedly due to his displeasure over the way that Bret Hart was being treated by Vince McMahon. By 1998 Rude had vanished again and began training, hoping for a WWF return. Sadly, Rude passed away on April 20, 1999 due to a heart attack.
The Bizarre One takes on the Loose Cannon.