The time between the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania in 1997 might be one of the craziest times in the WWF. We go from Shawn Michaels winning the WWF title and likely facing Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13, to Shawn Michaels “getting injured” and giving up the title, to the winner of tonight’s main event instead of getting a title shot becoming WWF champion.
Of course all these things happened days ago. On Thursday RAW Thursday, Michaels gave his famous lost my smile speech. That changed the main event of this show to a WWF title match, with the winner fighting Sid the next night on RAW for the title.
It really is an intriguing time that set up the next year in the WWF.
After a video package and intro we go right to Marc Mero entering the ring.
Marc Mero w/Sable vs Leif Cassidy
The graphic actually just calls Mero “The Wildman.” I’ve maintained Mero is a really underrated wrestler that never got a fair shake in the WWE. He was over in WCW. Watch all of his work as Johnny B. Badd. Was Mero a main eventer? No. But he wouldn’t have looked out of a place in a one off.
Cassidy is of course Al Snow, who is now a member of the new Rockers. He hasn’t started talking to a head yet. Cassidy goes right to the left knee of Mero and starts working that over. And he works it over for awhile. Lawler swears he heard Sable give up for Mero.
Sable pushes the ropes towards Mero while he is in a Figure Four, which Lawler rightfully says is wrong. Cassidy goes after Sable so Sable slaps him. You sort of started seeing an edge come out of Sable at this time. Mero hits a suicide dive to the outside on Cassidy. This allows Mero to take control and hit the Wild Thing, otherwise known as the Shooting Star Press, for the win. Okay opener.
Honky Tonk Man comes out then we get a recap of the HBK promo from Thursday. Why the hell didn’t they wait for Honky Tonk Man to come to the ring until after, unless they aren’t showing the crowd the promo. Which sounds like as we cut to a Sid promo.
Sid says it is time to give him back what is his. He was originally going to get a title shot on Thursday RAW Thursday but that was obviously canned.
Flash Funk, Bart Gunn and Goldust vs The Nation of Domination
This of course is Faarooq, Crush and Savio Vega N.O.D. And when they had a group of about 10 people with them and they had PG-13 rapping them to the ring. This of course is meant to be a resemblance of the Black Panther Party.
The faces are the most random collection of three guys put together. Poor Bart Gunn still is coming out to the Smoking Gunns theme. At least they showed they all have beef with the Nation. Savio Vega hasn’t changed his gear since turning heel. The bright red doesn’t fit in the group.
Faarooq asks for a mic but it isn’t working. The faces attack and the heels regroup on the outside. Flash Funk hits a dive off the top to the outside. He takes out all three men. Funk hits a top rope hurricarrana on Savio in the ring. Bart then tosses Funk to the outside, but this time the heels catch him and beat him down.
Funk makes the hot tag eventually to Bart Gunn. It might have been the biggest pop of Bart Gunn’s life until he got his head popped by Butterbean. Bart hits a bulldog off the top, but the ref is distracted so Crush leg drops Bart and puts Faarooq on top for the win.
WWF Intercontinental Championship: Rocky Maivia (c) vs Hunter Hearst Helmsely
If you would have told someone in 1997 that three years later, these two would be main eventing Wrestlemania would anyone have believed you? Rock just won the IC title at Thursday RAW Thursday from HHH. They bring up Rock’s heritage and where the High Chief Peter Maivia is watching the match. Lawler says “probably somewhere warm,” implying he’s in hell. Geez Jerry.
Rock is still green as green can be here. Plus that haircut makes him look ridiculous. If Rocky couldn’t pull it off in 1998 MJF certainly can’t in 2021. Rock spams the arm drag button early on in the match. HHH knocks Rock off the apron and onto the railing. We haven’t gotten to the “Rocky Sucks” chants yet and we still hear a “Rocky” chant early on.
Triple H decides to slow the match down with a pretty long headlock and uses the ropes for leverage until Earl Hebner catches him. He still goes back to the headlock after a couple moves.
Rock finally says forget this and escapes with a weird looking crossbody. Atomic drop followed by a crossbody off the top for two. Imagine 2021 Rock hitting a high crossbody off the top. Rock goes for a carry over DDT but doesn’t properly secure HHH and they tumble awkwardly to the mat. You can tell from the reaction of the guy in the Austin 3:16 shirt in the front row it looked rough.
HHH hits a thumb to the eye. Goldust comes out and gives the “Kiss My Ass” motion to HHH. With HHH distracted, Rock hits a back suplex for a 3 count to retain the title.
After the match as Goldust and HHH have a staredown, we get a debuting Chyna grabbing Marlena and choking her out. They do a pretty good job of selling it like a shoot, until they show a replay of it.
WWF Tag Team Championship: British Bulldog and Owen Hart (c) vs Doug Furnas and Philip Lafon
Now we’re talking. This match should be good. It starts off a bit slow until Owen kicks the back of Lafon going into the ropes. Of course this is at the start of the teasing of tension between Bulldog and Owen.
Bulldog and Owen go to work on Lafon. Lafon gets a couple hope spots in, including a sunset flip pin attempt but Owen comes in and distracts the ref. They still had the Superstar Line in 97 and have been plugging it throughout the show. Nice spot where Bulldog holds Lafon for a vertical suplex and Owen hits a crossbody off the top but only gets two.
Bulldog holds Lafon but Lafon moves and Owen hits a spinning heel kick into Bulldog. Bulldog gets pissed then clotheslines Owen, but then breaks up the pin attempt on him. Furnas hits a nice overhead suplex for two. Furnas hits a spike hurricarrana on Owen for two.
Lafon comes in and hits a spike DDT and a leg drop from Furnas gets two. Furnas goes for a suplex but Owen escapes and hits an enziguri for two. Bulldog and Lafon get tagged in. A good exchange then chaos ensues. Bulldog and Owen collide. Bulldog tosses Lafon into the corner then catches him and goes for a Powerslam. Owen comes in and hits Lafon with his Slammy, causing a DQ.
Bulldog and Owen argue after the match. Owen is just happy they are still tag champs. Bulldog throws his belt down and is still mad. Bulldog grabs the Slammy and drops it, causing it to break. Clarence Mason tries calming things and eventually gets Bulldog to take the belt.
Jerry Lawler says he’s controlling the Western Union Air Blimp. Parents hide your 16 year olds.
Final Four Match: Vader w/Paul Bearer vs Undertaker vs Bret Hart vs Steve Austin
So you can be eliminated by pinfall, submission, or being thrown over the top rope. Vader with Paul Bearer always seemed weird. I mean by this point his run in the WWF was doomed so it doesn’t matter anyways. Austin gets quite the quiet pop. That would change in a few months.
Bret/Austin and Taker/Vader pair off to start the match. Taker clotheslines Vader then goes and works over Bret and Austin. Taker hits Old School on Austin. Vader and Taker go to the outside. Vader tosses Howard Finkel off his chair and grabs it. He misses a shot to Taker then charges at Taker and Taker kicks the chair into Vader’s face.
Vader is busted open hard way as it looks like the chair seat opened a bit and went into his face. I actually had the RAW Magazine with a picture of Vader’s bloody eye on it. Taker chokeslams Vader but then walks into a weird version of the Stunner from Austin.
Everyone takes turns pairing off on the outside and inside the ring. Vader low blows Bret then hits him in the back with a chair. Austin goes for a piledriver on the outside but Taker backdrops him. Now it is Austin and Vader on the outside. Austin drops the steps on Vader, but Vader unloads with those stiff Vader shots in the corner. In a really awkward spot, Austin throws Vader and kind of awkwardly moves out of the way of the stairs then just falls on the poor timekeeper.
For some reason Vader pulls Bret out of the ring. They brawl up the aisle then into the crowd. We cut to Sid watching on a TV in a semi-normal position. Vader tries applying a Sharpshooter on Bret but fails.
Everyone finally gets back in the ring. Vader is a freaking bloody mess. Vader goes to the top for a moonsault but Taker moves. Taker and Vader go to the outside and Taker chokes Vader with a camera cable. Vader returns the favor and does the same to Taker.
Bret and Vader exchange some hard shots in the ring. Bret then kicks Vader low. I’m surprised we have gone this long without anyone getting eliminated. Blood is all over Vader’s upper body at this point. That man is a freaking bad ass. And of course, Austin gets tossed over the top rope to be eliminated by Bret. Good way of protecting Austin and not having him take a pin.
Vader finally ditches the mask almost 30 minutes into the match. I’m surprised it took that long. On the outside Paul Bearer hits Taker with the urn. Vader goes to the top but Bret meets him and superplexes Vader. Bret applies a Sharpshooter on Vader but Taker breaks it up.
Stone Cold comes back out and attacks Bret, throwing him into the post. Vader goes for a Vader Bomb, but Taker gets up and low blows Vader and tosses him over the top. Poor Vader’s nuts tonight.
Undertaker hits a chokeslam on Bret. Taker goes for a Tombstone but Austin pulls Bret’s foot down. Taker goes after Austin. Bret rolls him up for two. Bret goes after Austin. Taker charges but Bret moves. Taker hits Austin then turns around into a Bret clothesline sending Taker over the top and giving Bret the win to become WWF Champion.
That match was pure chaos but in a fun way. Nonstop action switching from in to out of the ring. I had fun watching it back. After the match Sid comes out to stare down Bret.