This week Throwback Thursday revisits a momentous event in the history of World Wrestling Entertainment as we look back at the 20th anniversary of the very first Badd Blood event, featuring the very first Hell in a Cell match, as seen of course on the WWE Network.
The fall of 1997 was a tumultuous time for the then-World Wrestling Federation. 13-days prior to this event (on September 22, 1997) Vince McMahon notified then-WWF Champion Bret Hart that McMahon was not only pulling out of their unprecedented 20-year contract but looking to be rid of Hart entirely, making Bret’s jump to World Championship Wrestling a certainty. The driving force behind the decision, it has been reported, was the financial losses the company was taking on in their battles with WCW over ratings supremacy in the “Monday Night Wars”, a battle the WWF was losing badly.
This event is best remembered by fans of the era as the night Brian Pillman died. The announcement, first made on the Free-For-All program, sent shock waves through the wrestling world among fans and boys alike. Passing at the age of 35, Brian Pillman left behind a wife, Melanie, three children, and a fourth on the way.
For those concerned with context, it’s all here. All previous editions of Monday Night RAW as well as all prior WWF PPVs are currently available on the Network for you to enjoy today!
WWF Badd Blood: In Your House 18 (WATCH)
Date: October 5, 1997 – Location: Kiel Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Attendance: 21,151 (Venue Record) – PPV Buys: 0.60 (>215,000 homes)
Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler, & Jim Ross – Interviews: Michael Cole & Dok Hendrix
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WWF World Heavyweight Champion: Bret “Hitman” Hart
WWF Intercontinental Champion: VACANT
WWF World Tag Team Champions: The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher)
WWF European Champion: Shawn Michaels
The show opens with a great vignette highlighting the Shawn Michaels/Undertaker feud before we go inside the Kiel Center for pyro and Vince McMahon’s delayed introductions (in his final full-time PPV commentary gig). As the Nation of Domination makes their way to the ring Vince, Lawler, and JR talk about the upcoming matches before Vince once again announces the passing of Brian Pillman, saying the WWF doesn’t have any more information on the matter and that if they find out more during the course of the broadcast they will let us know.
JR jumps to footage from three weeks prior of Faarooq injuring Ken Shamrock with a spinebuster before telling us that a week prior in Kawasaki Stadium, at an FMW show, Shamrock was re-injured and is unable to compete in the opening match. Hawk reiterates this as he tells the Nation they aren’t scared of them and will face them irregardless.
— “3-on-2 Tag Team Handicap Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:41)
The Nation of Domination (Rocky Maivia, Kama Mustafa, & D’Lo Brown) vs. The Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal)
This is a fun opener with a some decent action, pacing, psychology, and a hot crowd. Rocky Maivia, though despised by the crowd, shows all the signs of his future “Rock” persona. Animal takes the brunt of the punishment until he makes the hot tag to Hawk who, with Animal’s help, takes out the Nation. The LOD have Rocky set up for the Doomsday Device when Faarooq comes to the ring and distracts Animal. Hawk misses the clothesline on Rocky and suffers a roundhouse kick to the back of the head from Kama before being put out with the Rock Bottom for a Nation win at 12:20.
WINNERS are The Nation of Domination (Rocky Maivia, Kama Mustafa, & D’Lo Brown) vs. The Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior (Pin, 12:20)
Next we see Dok Hendrix and Sunny plugging the WWF Superstar Line.
At ringside Vince explains that the scheduled Dude Love/Brian Pillman match was to have taken place at this time before again explaining the details, as they knew them at the time, of the passing of Brian Pillman. McMahon offers condolences and again states that should any new information come in that they would let us know. All three men at the table have a faraway look in their eyes and are all clearly confused and stunned by the news.
— “Tag Team Mini-Estrellas Match” (WATCH – 21:23)
Mosaic & Tarantula vs. Max Mini & Nova
I can’t help but think Pillman was having a good laugh somewhere when a tag team midget match replaces the match Pillman was to have prior to his untimely death. Anyways, this one gets a good pop from the crowd and is actually quite entertaining despite the miscues and botches. In the end Max Mini manages to save a mangled tilt-a-whirl arm drag and turn it into a crucifix for the pin on Tarantula at 6:07 though Tarantula’s right shoulder was up a hair prior to the three-count. Immediately after the match we hear from the Spanish and French announcers who I’m sure had some insightful things to say.
WINNERS are Max Mini & Nova (Pin, 6:07)
Next we get a promo for the classic smoking skull “Austin 3:16” T-shirt. Pettengill says it’s only “twenty bucks” but the graphics says $25 plus shipping and handling. Back in the arena McMahon announces the attendance for the event, which was a record for the venue at the time.
— WWF World Tag Team Championship (WATCH – 31:38)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Sunny
The Godwinns (Henry & Phineas) w/Uncle Cletus vs. The Headbangers (Mosh & Thrasher)(c)
This one is sloppy (no pun intended) at times but it’s not at all a bad match. The match, for the most part, is The Headbangers taking it to both of The Godwinns until Henry takes Thrasher’s head off with a clothesline. The next half of the match is The Godwinns and Uncle Cletus (the former Dirty White Boy/T.L. Hopper) dominating The Headbangers. Eventually Mosh gets the hot tag and The Headbangers turn it around. It looks as if The Headbangers are on the verge of winning when Phineas blocks a Thrasher hurricanrana attempt into a dangerous-looking powerbomb for the pin at 12:18 to win the WWF World Tag Team titles for the second and final time. This marked the end of The Headbangers lone WWF World Tag Team title reign at 28-days. After the match The Godwinns and Uncle Cletus wipe out The Headbangers for good measure until the referee threatens to strip them of the titles unless they leave the ringside area.
WINNERS and NEW WWF World Tag Team Champions, The Godwinns (Henry & Phineas) w/Uncle Cletus (Pin, 12:18)
Next up we see a highlight reel of Stone Cold Steve Austin hitting everyone with the Stunner, including the now infamous Stunner to Vince McMahon from the September 22, 1997 edition of RAW in MSG. The footage concludes with McMahon giving Austin his three choices: get a medical clearance to wrestle, sign a waiver to compete, or be fired.
Backstage Michael Cole says that the answer to McMahon’s request would come tomorrow night on RAW and that Austin was at the PPV but refusing to speak with anyone. Suddenly Owen Hart enters the frame, wearing an “Owen 3:16: I Just Broke Your Neck” T-shirt, saying he’s sick and tired of hearing about Stone Cold Steve Austin. Owen says all Austin’s going to do is hand him the Intercontinental title after Owen defeats Faarooq. Owen then warns the “WWF officials” to keep Austin away from him or face a lawsuit.
In the ring Jim Ross is ready to pay tribute to some of St. Louis’ greatest wrestling stars that “made St. Louis the greatest wrestling city ever in the United States of America”. JR puts over the importance of St. Louis and Sam Muchnick before introducing Gene Kiniski; Jack Brisco; Dory Funk, Jr.; “Handsome” Harley Race; Terry Funk; Sam Muchnick; and Lou Thesz. Each of the honorees has their own video package, certificate, and plaque in what feels more like a WCW Slamboree “Hall of Fame” ceremony than a WWF PPV segment.
Next we go backstage to Dok Hendrix who interviews Faarooq ahead of his showdown with Owen Hart for the vacant WWF Intercontinental title. Faarooq says that Austin couldn’t survive where he came from and that tonight he’s going to show what Faarooq and the Nation stand for.
Back at ringside Vince gives us an update on the death of Brian Pillman by telling us that police do not suspect foul play and that it looks like a drug overdose “be prescription or recreational” before going on the defensive. Drugs are “a problem in all sport and all forms of entertainment” and points out that nothing will be known for sure until toxicology tests comes back.
Prior to the next match Stone Cold Steve Austin comes to ringside to sit with WWF Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter and present the winner of the forthcoming match with the WWF Intercontinental title belt.
— Finals of the WWF Intercontinental Championship Tournament (WATCH – 1:04:29)
Faarooq vs. Owen Hart
Before the match begins Vince and JR remind us that Brian Pillman broke into the wrestling business with the Hart family in Calgary and that Pillman’s passing must be weighing heavy on Owen Hart. The match itself isn’t bad but Austin’s antics outside the ring, including hijacking the English, Spanish and French commentary, draws attention away from the match for both the live crowd as well as the TV audience. Late Jim Neidhart comes out to distract the referee. Austin takes advantage and gloms Faarooq with the Intercontinental title which allows Owen to score the pin at 7:16. This marked Owen Hart’s second and final Intercontinental title win. After the match Austin tosses Owen the belt and walks away.
WINNER and NEW WWF Intercontinental Champion, Owen Hart (Pin, 7:16)
Next we see footage from the previous week’s RAW of the Hart Foundation beating down both Vader and The Patriot and covering them both with Canadian flags. JR announces that the rules for the upcoming “Flag Match” had been modified prior to the event going live so that a team can now win by pinfall, submission, or by capturing their flag. It’s revealed that Vader is still hurting from his match with Ken Shamrock in Tokyo and that The Patriot is recovering from the flu.
— “8-Man Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:20:12)
Los Boricuas (Savio Vega; Jesús Castillo, Jr.; Jose Estrada, Jr.; & Miguel Pérez, Jr.) vs. The Disciples of Apocalypse (Crush, Chainz, 8-Ball, & Skull)
As Los Boricuas come to the ring we hear that this one is an “extemporaneous” match “considering the circumstances involving Brian Pillman,” Vince says, “which no one could anticipate.” As Vince and JR are quick to point out this match is all punches, kicks, and clotheslines though, to be fair, there are a good number of slams too. It’s also the first time I can recall anyone in WWF TV referring to the action in the ring as “attitude” as Jerry Lawler does during this match. While it may have been entertaining to the live crowd, this 8-man is a bit of a chore to get through today. The match breaks down late into an all-out brawl that sees Los Boricuas win when Castillo, Jr. is hit from behind by Chainz which allows Crush to hit a big tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for the 1-2-3 at 9:11.
WINNERS are The Disciples of Apocolypse (Crush, Chainz, 8-Ball, & Skull) (Pin, 9:11)
Backstage Michael Cole interviews Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith about their forthcoming “Flag Match”. Bret says they’re going to set an example; that they are better than “any two Americans in the World Wrestling Federation whether the American wrestling fans like it or not!” Davey Boy says the only flag that’ll be waving will be the Canadian flag.
In the arena Vince, JR, and Lawler fill time while the “apparatus” holding the flags is set up.
With the Hart Foundation in the ring we go backstage where Dok Hendrix interviews Vader and Patriot. Patriot (looking at the wrong camera) says he plans on getting it done tonight with Vader. Vader says that Bret Hart being the best there is, was, and ever will be is a bunch of “bulls*it”, and that he and Patriot don’t like big mouthed Canadians who trash talk Americans and they’re going to play the “pain game”.
— “Tag Team Flag Match” (WATCH – 1:32:04)
“British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith & WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. The Patriot & Vader
This one starts as a brawl on the floor before the bell even rings with Vader and Bret going to war and Patriot and “Bulldog” fighting on their own. When the two teams separate JR muses aloud that Bret may receive a warmer welcome in Montreal. Let’s hope so! What could go wrong? As for the match, it’s a decent psychological battle (even if Davey Boy looks ridiculous at times with his wild and reckless bumping) featuring a number of interesting spots (like Vader very nearly landing on his feet after a top rope moonsault) and storytelling even if it’s way too long. The crowd, hot at first, loses nearly all interest in this one as it drags on. After a very stupid fan runs in the ring Vader hits Bret Hart with the Vader Bomb which leads to Davey Boy and Vader brawling outside the ring. Patriot attempts to roll-up Bret Hart from behind but Bret rolls through and, with a handful of tights, scores the pinfall win at 21:16. After the match Patriot, acting like a heel, jumps Bret and and has to be restrained by the referee.
WINNERS are “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith & WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bret “Hitman” Hart (Pin, 21:16)
After replays we get a “gang rules” promo for Survivor Series ’97.
Next, at ringside, Vince and JR look up at the descending “Hell in the Cell” and talk about the rules of the match while Lawler blames both Vince and JR for forcing Shawn Michaels into such a match with The Undertaker.
Backstage Dok Hendrix interviews Shawn Michaels, surrounded by the rest of D-X, who cuts an amusing promo about all the reasons he’s going to win the match and why. Triple H tries to get a word in (well, two to be specific) but he’s cut off.
Up next we get a vignette detailing the Undertaker/HBK feud that casts Michaels as a primadonna and Undertaker as an unwitting victim hellbent on revenge. After the vignette we see WWF Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter checking under the ring for D-X members.
— “Non-Title Number One Contender’s ‘Hell in the Cell’ Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series ’97” (WATCH – 2:03:05)
WWF European Champion Shawn Michaels w/Triple H, Chyna, & Rick Rude vs. The Undertaker
Simply put, this match is one of WWF/E’s all-time greatest and set a standard for “Hell in a Cell” that has very rarely been matched much less eclipsed. Both Shawn Michaels and Undertaker are extraordinary in this one with absolutely every movement having purpose. Undertaker destroys HBK in the first portion of the match until Michaels gets the upper hand and begins using his speed, high-flying repertoire, and the steel steps. The match turns entirely when an injured “cameraman” (injured at the hands of HBK) leads to the cell door being opened and HBK escaping. Soon HBK is a bloody mess and the match moves from the floor to the top of the cell where Undertaker tosses HBK around like a rag doll. HBK goes over the side to climb off when Undertaker stomps HBK’s fingers, sending Michaels crashing through the Spanish announce table below to a massive pop. Back in the ring Undertaker crushes HBK with a steel chair to the head and looks poised to end the match for good when the lights go out and Kane, with Paul Bearer, makes his debut.
Kane rips the cell door off the hinges and confronts Undertaker in the ring before Kane delivers a tombstone piledriver and walks off. In the confusion HBK tosses an arm over Undertaker to score the (slow) pinfall, and the title shot against Bret Hart at Survivor Series ’97, at 29:58.
WINNER is WWF European Champion Shawn Michaels (Pin, 29:58)
After the match Triple H and Chyna come in to help Michaels up and out of the ring, gloating all the while. We see replays of Kane confronting Undertaker and Kane attacking the “Phenom”. We see Undertaker in the ring, struggling to get up, as the show goes off the air.
Badd Blood is really the tale of two events. We have the first two hours of the show, which are standard WWF fare for the times, and the last 45-minutes with “Hell in the Cell” that is light-years ahead of the rest of the WWF at the time. Despite all of that the event holds up rather well, even with the passing of Brian Pillman clouding the festivities.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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