Brett Mix’s WWF Summerslam 1997- “Hart and Soul” Review:
“And I’m afraid Austin is hurt….and hurt BADLY……….” –Vince McMahon
-Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler did commentary.
-The Event took place in New Jersey.
-Now onto the PPV….
1) Opening Contest- Mankind vs Hunter Hearst Helmsley (W/Chyna) in a Steel Cage Match
Summerslam kicks off in a unique way for the first time ever with a Cage match! This is the third Cage match in the history of Summerslam with the other two being the Rick Rude/Ultimate Warrior match from Summerslam 1990, and of course the memorable Hart Brother Cage match for the WWF Title at Summerslam 1994.
This was the 10th annual Summerslam so it made sense to make it special this way.
The Mankind/Helmsley feud got hot in the Summer of 1997 with battles and wars at In Your House Canadian Stampede as well as the brutal KOTR 1997 match where Hemsley destroyed Mick Foley. This Cage match would add fuel to the fire of an already HOT feud and it was fitting that this Cage match happened at Summerslam as this rivalry got heated in a big way and it was not over yet.
They’d continue to feud as Mankind developed into Cactus and had a great Raw match with Trips from the Garden on the night where Austin first stunnered McMahon in September of 1997.
Chyna was always coming to the aid of Hunter in his matches, especially Cage matches as she would continue to do for the next couple of years and we can see this here. Foley the great worker that took a lot of bumps in this environment matching up against the blue blood who was a mastered technician and a rich snob that would do anything to tear Mankind apart.
The match began when Helmsley tried to escape the blue cage a series of times when Mankind would stop him by pulled him off and slamming him to the mat. Mankind turned the action violent and he’d level Helmsley on a series of occasions with rights and lefts followed by a pile driver. Mankind says BANG BANG. Vince acknowledges Mankind as Foley and he slaps on the Mandible Claw but Chyna begins to climb the cage and pulls Mankind by the hair from the outside as she is HALF WAY UP THE CAGE! Nothing the ref can do about it since it’s NO DQ and Vince says that you’d think the cage would keep chyna away….., which must have been some motivation to create the Hell in a Cell a couple of months later. Mankind came off with a clothesline and then tried to escape the cage while the King said he was SCARED and he was running. CHYNA then climbed up and low blowed Mankind on the top. Hunter Hearst Helmsley then hit a vertical SUPLEX off the top of the cage straight to the canvas!
Great pace to this match. Helmsley then went to escape the match and once halfway out the door changed his mind to go back and attack Mankind some more. Helmsley then punished Foley some more and threw Mankind right into the side of the cage. Ross pointed out how Helmsley had a distinct advantage after that suplex from the top of the blue steel cage and Triple H threw Foley into the cage a few different times. Knowing Mick Foley he BUMPED Hard as well. Mankind was in a world of hurt here as Triple H raked the eyes of Mankind and gave him some hard blows to the head with his right hand after he had sustained head shots towards the cage. Triple H relentlessly kept slamming his face into the cage area. Jim Ross says Mankind is getting his brains scrambled in the Cage. Helmsley went to escape but Mankind went to drag him back inside the ring but Triple H kicked him off. Hunter then was over with one leg and then as Mankind caught up hung from one leg to the outside of the ring.
Mankind the irishwhipped Triple H into the turnbuckle and stomped on Hunter some more. The fans got in support of Mankind here as Foley pushed Hunter’s head onto the top of the rope’s but again Chyna interfered by grabbing his hair and pushing his head down. Helmsley gave Mankind an atomic drop but as he took his time recieved a clothesline by Mankind. After a bit of hesitation Triple H gave Foley a face buster from the knee. Helmsley then tried to suplex Mankind but Mankind reversed it and lifted up Helmsley and he hung from upside down INSIDE the cage in a very unique and VERY original spot. Mankind then ran off the ropes and knocked Hunter off so he fell to the ropes and then the canvas which got a great pop! Mankind built support from the crowd as he slammed Hunter into the cage a few times. Once Mankind took his time Hunter got right back into the match and back dropped Mankind into the Steel Cage and this was a very dangerous spot and that got a good ovation from the crowd. As Hunter Hearst Helmsley climbed up the front of the Cage Mankind joined him and the two brawled standing on top of the ropes until Helmsley fell and hit his crotch onto the top rope.
Helmsley then got his leg stuck in the ropes and Mankind saw an oppurtunity to escape the cage. Mankind crawled over to the side of the cage but Chyna smacked Mankind’s head with the CAGE door HARD. Very Violently and then she slammed the ref face first into the steel steps. Chyna then climbed up the cage with a chair and threw one in for Hunter to use. Helmsley then set the chair up in the center of the ring and went to hit a Pedigree on Mankind but he swung Triple H up and he hit Chyna who was in the center of the CAGE and she fell off and the crowd went insane! Mankind then hit a double armed DDT onto the steel chair. Mankind in control now! The fans going crazy as Mankind climbs to the steel cage and to the top.
Chyna then HILARIOUSLY forgot her spot and went to help Trips out but then left as she realized it wasn’t the time for that just yet. Mankind then at the top ripped his shirt to reveal a DUDE LOVE heart drawn on tattoo but it had worn off and hit a FLYING ELBOW drop from the top of the cage in shades of Snuka and Muraco! Mankind then climbed up the cage to the outside, to the floor as Chyna tried to pull Helmsley to the floor first but didn’t make it.
In the end it was Mankind who got the victory at 16:25 after he reached the floor first! Once Foley was on the ground his foot began to shake as Dude Love’s music played and the fans cheered and Mankind began to dance like Dude Love outside the ring.
They show girls in Austin 3:16 shirts dancing to Dude Love’s music playing over the speakers. What a fantastic opener that is quite underrated as its never talked about as a good opener and is quite forgotten in Trips-Foley rivalry because of all the other great matches.
An absolute thrill ride of an opener!
2) Goldust (with Marlena) vs Brian Pillman -“If Pillman loses he wears a Dress on Raw”
This was Pillman’s 2nd last PPV event before his tragic death the day of Bad Blood 1997.
His feud with Goldust had reached personal levels and they kind of pushed the envelope a little including Dustin Rhode’s and Terri Runnels real life daughter Dakota.
Brian Pillman called her his love child. This was a bit before Pillman has his “X-Files” segments where he got possession of Marlena but lets just say this rivalry was personal.
Both these guys here? Dustin is probably in the top 75 workers ever. I got Pillman in my top 25. Had Pillman not been injured here and lets say Goldust wrestled under the Dustin Rhodes character with NO PERSONAL storline then this match had near **** potential.
However, Pillman WAS hurt. Dustin was GOLDUST. The storyline WAS PERSONAL and it was 1997 and this was a basic mid-card match on Summerslam so I didn’t expect the greatness we could of got between these two in the old days of the early WCW.
Pillman jumped Goldust early on until Golddust showed good agility and resilience and bounced off the top corner onto Pillman. Goldust then kissed Pillman and JR called it a liplock to which Vince laughed. Pillman chopped Goldust in the neck area until choking him out.
Goldust then acknowledged as the son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes and went to work on Pillman outside of the ring for a bit until Pillman showed his quickness back inside the ring and got back in control and hit Goldust with a suplex. Pillman went to the top but Goldust caught him and lifted him up and he landed his groin on to the top of the ropes. Marlena looked hot on the outside as Pillman grabbed her and used her a shield to try and gain an advantage on Goldust and Pillman then levelled him in the crotch and threw him in the ring. Pillman came off the top rope with a clothesline this time and hit it. Pillman only scored a near fall and then another one but Golddust kicked out. This is Pillman’s Summerslam debut where as Golddust is making his second appearance and was 1-0 after a victory over Marc Mero to this point. Pillman slaps on a sleeper to Goldust. Goldust works his way out of it though slowly but surely and the fans were on his side as Pillman’s eyes go psychotic. Goldust hit a backslide but got a near fall and then Pillman hit a clothesline! Goldust SLAPPED PILLMAN with hard shots but Pillman fought back as the action got very agressive. Goldust irish whipped Pillman to the buckle and then came off for a runnin Bulldog to Pillman but Brian pushed him to the outside and The King just loves it. Goldust then spears Pillman and tried for a sunset flip but Goldust didn’t get all of it.
Goldust got the victory at 7:15 when he rolled Pillman up after Marlena smacked him in the head with a Purse! Brian Pillman will have to now wear a DRESS ON RAW. (As Seen in his DVD) Good little match between two great workers but nothing overly special.
3) The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) vs The Godwinns (Henry and Phinneas)
You want to talk about personal rivalries, well this one was as well. The WWF in these days where Vince Russo started to come along made sure that the feuds were hot from top to bottom of the card and I think that’s an aspect in Russo’s game that many take for granted.
He was great in that department and it made every match feel like it meant something.
Henry O had broken his neck in this rivalry as well as Hawk recieving a slop drop on the NEW at that time STEEL ENTRANCE RAMP on Raw and had been busted open. The LOD action figure were held by fans in attendance and I remember at that time thinking those figures were just GOLD because they came with the spike vests. ANYWAYS the LOD came out to a great pop as expected with a ton of LOD chants and The Godwinns HEEL music ranks up there among the most annoying themes ever.
It was also funny how The Godwinns wore just overalls with no shirt underneath as HEELS, looked much worse. The Godwinns recieved a double clothesline from both Road Warriors at the beginning of the match then Phinneas threw a tantrum by flipping the apron cover over a few times. Road Warrior Animal then got it going inside the ring with Phinneas and he kicked him in the mid-section a few times in the corner before throwing him to the buckle but nobody home when he charged after him.
Road Warrior Animal avoided a double team confrontation from Henry and Phinneas as he gave them a double clothesline and The Godwinns went for a walk on the outside in frustration. The Godwinns then got in control and it only lasted about 10 seconds as Hawk moved his head and Henry fell to the outside, then Road Warrior Hawk hit him with a chop and threw him into the steel steps, then gave him a leg drop a couple of times.Henry O Godwin then went for a neck braker on Hawk then gave him a choke hold from the neck for payback since Henry broke his earlier on Raw as shown in the pre-match package. Animal then with an arm bar on Henry and continued to wear the Big Farmer down. As Henry sent Animal to the ropes Phinneas hit him with a boot to the back then Henry took Animal over the top ropes with a clothesline. Henry then charged into Animal who stood on the apron to the outside as he hit the steel fence in front of the front row as the fans booed.
Henry applied a scoop slam so well and he did so to Animal and now The Godwinns isolated Animal to there half of the ring and Phinneas hit Animal’s head to the top of the buckle before picking him up and slapping a bear hug on him. The Crowd chanted for The Legion of Doom to get back in the match but Animal stayed in the bear hug for a good minute and this was really the only slow part of the match. Animal slapped his hands trying to break the gold but Henry came in and missed Animal’s head but he tried to make the tag to Hawk and Henry with Phinneas continued with frequent tags to each other. Phinneas and Henry wore him down but FINALLY after a minute Hawk came in and started to dominate The Godwinns.
Vince McMahon called Road Warrior Hawk a ONE MAN GANG as he had a ton of energy stored up and he clotheslined Phineas. He went for a neck braker on Henry who had earlier broken his neck! He got a near fall. As Phineas went to the outside both Road Warriors hit Henry with a clothesline. Phinneas pushed Henry out of the way of a Doomsday Device. In the end at 9:51 the LOD defeated the Godwinns when they hit Henry with a spike pile driver (double team) to Henry’s injured neck. The crowd popped and the match was over. Only one real slow part of the match and this one was well worked with crowd support. Good match.
4) Davey Boy Smith “The British Bulldog” (c) vs “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock for the WWF European Championship and if Bulldog loses he must Eat Dog Food
European Title or Chow down on some Dog Food for the Bulldog if he does not retain the title.
A unique match up here between two powerful wrestlers, and I thought that Davey Boy looked at his best during these days.
Davey Boy Smith put his European title and Flag to the side as The World’s Most Dangerous Man came to the ring and the two got it on.
This was Shamrock’s first match on a Big Four PPV although he did appear at WM 13 in the ref to one of the most famous matches ever.
Shamrock got some revenge early and slammed Bulldog into the steel steps. Ken
Shamrock then went for a hiptoss and then went to brake Bulldog’s ankle but Davey
Boy Smith grabbed onto the ropes to escape.
Shamrock hit Bulldog in the chest cavity with a hard clothesline. Ken Shamrock then with hard rights and lefts to the mid-section of The Bulldog as he had been in complete control in the first half. Davey Boy Smith and Ken Shamrock both have unique styles,
Bulldog obvioussly a better worker but both quite different.
Davey Boy Smith got in control and pounded away on the head of Shamrock and I love when he punched Ken Shamrock’s head the stomp on the canvas at the same time was always so loud and powerful. As was the headlock he slapped on Shamrock.
The Bulldog then hit Shamrock with a knee to the guy as he came off the ropes and slapped on another headlock.
The crowd chanted USA and Shamrock started to elbow out of the sleeper and then he hit a sunset flip but only got a two. Bulldog then retailated after that with a hard clothesline and went back into a sleeper on Shamrock.
Bulldog then pounded on the head of Shamrock again as Ken always seems to look down when he took shots to the head. Davey Boy Smith then threw Shamrock right into the ring post head first and then to the outside. Bulldog then slammed Ken Shamrock into the steel steps head first HARD. Bulldog then went to suplex
Shamrock onto the steel steps.
Shamrock saw it and blocked it as he blead from the mouth. The Bulldog then with a take down and went for the third time to a headlock while Shamrock blead from the mouth and then as Shamrock tried to get out of it he got pushed to the outside.
Davey Boy Smith then slammed Shamrock right onto the mat on the outside. The Bulldog got the dog food and put it right into Shamrock’s face and then Kenny snapped.
Ken Shamrock then hit Bulldog with the can of dog food and the match ended as the fans booed at the result.
AT 7:29 Bulldog retained the European title when he won by DQ.
Shamrock snapped and assaulted the officials after the match when he gave Bulldog and the Refs a series of suplexes after he choked out Davey Boy Smith.
Nice mid-card match here but nothing overly special!
Continued the trend for the night of solid matches.
5) Los Boricuas (Savio Vega, Miguel Pérez, Jr., Jose Estrada, Jr. and Jesus Castillo) vs The Disciples of Apocalypse (Crush, Chainz, 8-ball and Skull) in an Eight-Man Tag Team Match
Los Boricuas came out to no reaction while the DOA did get a pretty good pop, probably just because of the bikes.
Los Boricuas didn’t get a pop as mentioned but neither did this match.
The beginning was fairly exciting when The DOA charged to the ring and it was GANG WARS (Which was the tagline for the Survivor Series of that year and NOT Screwjob) although that’s all people know it as.
All eight man hamered away on each other before Skull took it to Jose Estrada at the beginning of the match.
Big Power moves from the DOA and this match was mainly just a brawl for the most part.
Chainz, Crush, 8 Ball and Skull all went to work on Los Boricuas with double team moves among big blows and the crowd liked it just wasn’t very loud as expected.
Jesus changed the momentum for a bit hairy chest and all as he chopped either 8 Ball or Skull in the corner and then Los Boricuas attacked him in the corner.
The Nation of Domination then walked through the capacity crowd and it always looked funny to see The Nation of Domination with AHMED JOHNSON in it, even IF it didn’t last very long. Ahmed’s career was gone to hell at this point though. He never wrestled at a Summerslam, EVER and he was a pretty big star in this company.
Savio Vega and Crush were fired earlier from The Nation of Domination and then Crush formed his own gang, The DOA and Savio formed Los Boricuas. Both these teams went at it here.
A back and forth match between the two gangs.
Savio Vega with a reverse chinlock on Skull.
Chainz on the outside got a Pearl River Plunge by Ahmed Johnson to the concrete and Ahmed said, SUCK ON THAT.
In the end it was the Los Boricuas put away the DOA at 9:07 when Jesus hit Chainz with an elbow drop after Ahmed had attacked Chainz like that.
Los Boricuas celebrated and walked away to no reaction while The DOA and Nation battled it out with each other until Crush came out with his bike to scare off the Nation.
The Nation’s involvment in the match helped it from feeling pointless but overall this was actually a BETTER match then I had remembered.
I originally thought it was completely boring and slow but it wasn’t THAT bad after all.
6) Owen Hart (c) vs Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Intercontinental Championship and if Steve Austin loses he must kiss Owen Hart’s Ass
“I was the man who beat Stone Cold Steve Austin.”- Owen Hart.
That was repeated like 10 times in the pre-match video as Owen was the one who pinned Steve Austin for the one two three at Canadian Stampede in the awesome ten man tag team match.
Good Build up to this feud.
“I’ll Kiss his ass, if I can’t kick it and that’s the Bottom Line, because STONE COLD SAID SO!”
Austin came out to an amazing pop as he was one of the if not the hottest stars in the entire industry (counting WCW) at this time.
Stone Cold and Owen Hart had a personal rivalry but the belt still mattered.
As Micheal Cole attempted to grab a word with Stone Cold he said “You’re fixin to kiss my ass if you don’t get out of my way!”
Austin looked in good shape here (well yeah, it was before the injury) but he was red hot with the crowd and when celebrating fingered Owen inbetween posing and Owen didn’t like it and attacked Austin’s knees from right in under him.
Owen then ducked a clothesline from Austin as Steve hit the Lou Thesz press and a series of right hands and Austin sent Owen hard sternum first into the corner then raked the head of Owen and slammed him to the mat twice. This was Steve’s first Summerslam match on PPV despite beating Yokozuna in the Free-For-All the year before.
Austin missed Owen on the side and hit the ropes but still caught Owen with a hard clothesline and a nearfall. Austin then grabbed Owen’s left arm and twisted it as the fans continued to chant his name. They were amazingly loud in this match compared to the other ones. Austin then with a wrist lock as the fans chanted USA. Austin continued to twist the wrist of Owen as Austin drove his knee into the bicep trying to Charlie Horse the upper arm, as JR said Owen had to technically compete with Austin and Owen began to flip over as he did so well but Austin gave Owen a thumb to the eye.
Austin then got caught in an arm bar by Owen and the two kept exchanging arms with the other until Austin’s slammed Owen and he fell back on it as the fans cheered.
Owen did get the better of this exchange though and caught The Rattlesnake with a Spinning Heel Kick. Austin then went face first into the steel ring post as King called it a beautiful move by Owen. Hart then slammed Austin into the steel steps and Austin then tried to break Austin’s hand since he loved those punches so much and stomped on his hand on the top of the steel steps.
That move would be a focus point for Owen during this match.
Inside the ring Owen then tried to BITE on that hand and then stomped on it some more. He grabbed Austin’s wrist and tried to seperate his fingers then tried to specifically BREAK THE MIDDLE FINGER. Owen then bit Austin’s finger which was hilarious.
Austin was tied up in the ropes and the fans chanted “Let’s GO AUSTIN”
Owen flew off the ropes but Austin caught him with a Stun Gun!
Austin then hit a hard spine buster and then a clothesline to the outside!
The pace to this match was beyond fantastic! Owen had enough and walked away but Austin chased after him and hit him with a hard clothesline from behind right beside the entrance way. Austin then threw Owen’s head into the top of one of the stages near the entrance way where The Govenor of New Jersey had stood earlier in the night.
Austin then had Owen where he wanted him in the center of the ring.
Steve got sent to the ride by Owen and caught a desperation move by Owen, a NICE BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX followed by a neck breaker to Austin!
(You wish this was the ONLY NECK BRAKER of the match)
Owen then dropped an elbow and scooped up Austin and slammed him to the canvas! This match has had a brilliant pace, never slow and the crowd was into it the whole time once again. Owen flies off the top with an elbow but only gets a two.
Owen twisted Austin’s neck and had him in a Neck Vice.
Jim Ross strangely says “Austin in his career HAS HAD NECK PROBLEMS.” It’s almost like they KNEW what was going to happen.
Owen with a hard irishwhip to the buckle on Austin but Stone Cold fires back with a nice clothesline. Austin goes for the Sharpshooter but Owen gets out of it and drove his knee into the high neck of Austin. Jim Ross says it’s almost like Owen drew a bulls eye on the neck of Austin. Yeah, that’s fairly accurate as the crowd chanted Lets Go Austin some more.
Owen came off with a side suplex from the corner but Austin rolled over after the near fall and caught a German Suplex when Owen turned around and he thought he had got a three. Owen then damaged Steve’s neck some more and locked on a camel clutch.
Vince calls it a TREMENDOUS match up. It really was.
Some more solid wrestling between Owen and Austin but Owen kept up the pressure on the neck of Austin.
Vince: “There is a SEA of Austin 3:16 shirts in the arena, no question he is insanely popular.”
The match is going nicely and Owen goes for a gut wrench suplex.
You all know what happens here, Owen botches the piledriver and Austin can’t get up.
He knew the stipulation was a “KISS MY ASS” so he made sure he rolled up Owen, as Hebner told Owen what to do after a shaken up Owen improvised and killed time.
He would yell “CAN-A-D-A, CAN-A-D-A”, “Now he’s gonna have to kiss my ass!”
Rough night for both guys.
The finish went down at 16:16, a little earlier then expected obvioussly due to the unfortunate piledriver incident and Austin rolled up Owen in one of the weakest looking roll up/inside cradle’s known to man (who is going to blame him after being damn near paralyzed) and he got the count. Owen kicked out to not make himself look weak right after the three but as Steve says in his book that kick out damaged his neck a lot more and he was in critical condition as that was a no brainer.
Still though, Austin celebrated with one hand in the air with the IC Title and he says it himself he has no idea how he did it. The refs helped him to the back after he tried to do it himself but couldn’t. Austin is the toughest son of a bitch in the WWF and this night here proved it and they ran with it and made as hit load of money, they revolutionized the industry off of a REAL life angle right here showing Steve’s toughness.
This match was heading places, I shit you not this was going near **** territory to the botch. Austin said it himself on his DVD that his chemistry with owen was almost as good as his chemistry with Bret. This match was the best the two had one on one anyway until that botch and the unfortunate ending. It wrecked Austin and forced him into an early retirement but at the same time he managed to fight through the injury and go more into a brawling style that DID luckily suit his BAD SOB character after all. So things worked out in the long run despite him living every day in pain still.
Awesome until you know what…..still a great match overall, there’s absolutely NO DENYING THAT AT ALL.
Steve Austin was the highest draw and the hottest star in the company so why he was winning the IC title is kind of puzzling. By this point the Wrestling Observer said his Austin 3:16 shirt was selling every 32 seconds in North America. This was of course why Vince was so devistated as they could not afford to lose there hottest star as said in The Monday Night Wars.
This was a terrific match till the injury but the botch and ending knock it down half a star at least.
7) Main Event- The Undertaker (c) vs Bret “Hitman” Hart for the WWF Championship, with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee- If Bret Hart loses he must never Wrestle on American Soil again
Would Shawn Michaels screw Bret Hart? No that would happen a few months later. If Shawn did screw over Bret though he would ALSO not be able to Wrestle in the United States.
Would Undertaker retain the title and force Bret Hart to never wrestle on American Soil again?
Would The Hitman become the five time champion?
One thing is for sure.
The whole Canada-USA storyline around the Summer of 1997 was fucking phenominal television and it really should have turned the Monday Night wars right there if it had not been for the likes of Eddie, Benoit, Rey, Malenko and others putting on awesome matches in WCW.
Bret Hart is far and away Mr. Summerslam to this point and who knows, still might be.
The Hitman took part in classic matches against Demolition in 1988 and in a 2 out of 3 falls match in 1990. He competed again with The Anvil against The Brain Busters in a CLASSIC at Summerslam 1989 that I have rated **** 1/2.
Oh and then there’s vs Mr. Perfect at SS 1991. Bulldog at 92, Doink and Lawler at 93, as well as Owen at 94. Isaac Yankem at 95 was DECENT and he was away at last years event.
This match is one of his best and his last at Summerslam until 2010 teaming with Team WWE.
There’s no doubt Bret Hart had built up quite the legacy at Summerslam.
Shawn Michaels had never been an official in any match till this one.Bret Hart and HBK give each other a cold litle look before the GONG goes off and while HBK was posing for his pyro he did a small SUCK it taunt while JR said “Now all the officials are gonna want pyro!” Funny stuff.
THIS is one of my favourite matches to watch of all time. There’s just something about these two.
THESE TWO have Fantastic chemistry with each other. As for this match, I don’t think it’s quite as good as One Night Only as it has a slower pace (in a way) but it’s my favourite match between them. It’s so close to One Night Only though. That’s where people disagree, I’ve seen this rated anywhere from *** 3/4 – **** 3/4. I give it **** 1/2 for many many reasons.
HBK’s involvment made the match awesome. I can’t count on one or two hands for that matter how many time he got in guys faces and said “I’m the law!” I say “GUYS” because the late great Brian Pillman and Owen Hart came out and he said the same thing to those two.
Undertaker had been in Six Summerslam’s and in the two’s combined 14 Summerslam appearances, they had only lost twice! Once each.
Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart’s interactions were funny in this one considering the real life heat and Shawn as ref was just a great idea. Jerry Lawler points out how Bret probably wants to punch Shawn right in the face and Vince replies back with “I’m not so sure Shawn wouldn’t mind doing that either to Bret.” Both comments were probably true. I’ll never understand how Bret and Shawn could work nightly in the ring with that much heal hatred let alone wrestle for an hour.
As for Taker-Bret this match flowed so smoothly. I absolutely loved (like at One Night Only) where he focused on a body part and took it down. When Bret got back on the offense he did the same and worked on the big man (Taker’s) legs like he does best. Bret Hart’s strategic story telling is top notch and for my money can only be rivaled by Chris Benoit for North American Wrestling or maybe perhaps all of Professional Wrestling.
Watching this match is such a treat for me as I probably enjoy it even more the more and more often I view it.
The Undertaker introduced Bret to the railing on the outside and the steel ring post befor Bret got in control and levelled Taker into the steel steps.
After Bret’s spine had gone to the steel post earlier on Taker applied a back breaker then followed THAT up with more work to Bret’s back before sending his head to the buckle then grabbing Bret with a bear hug.
Bret had won eight titles in the WWF before he won his 9th and final one here in this match but Taker slapped that bear hug on harder before a huge clothesline on Bret. Bret dodged an elbow drop but Taker continued to wear down The Hitman as Bret couldn’t avoid this contact when Taker nailed Bret’s back again.
The Hitman got in control again as Taker came off the ropes, in desperation he tripped him. Ross points out how it shoulnd’t surprise anybody as Bret targetted Taker’s legs. Bret tried to cut the big man down like usual with a smart strategy.
Bret focuses on the left knee of Taker as he lands on it as it hangs over the ropes with visions of an inevitable Sharpshooter in mind. Bret then kicked at Taker’s left leg and pounded away on it in the corner. We had seen Taker work on Bret’s back here and Bret worked on Taker’s leg/knee area. (The left one)
Bret then put Taker in a Figure Four Leglock as Paul Bearer came towards the ring. Paul Bearer was the man who screwed Taker last year at this event and this was during the time he claimed Kane was alive and to piss Taker off.
That no doubt distracted The Phenom but he was able to reverse the figure four and then he went to the outside of the ring and gave Bearer a big right hand and then another and from behind The Hitman took down Taker’s weak knee.
Awesome Psychology and Bret a brilliant oppurtunist.
Owen Hart and Brian Pillman came towards the ring during the next spot as Bret continued to tear apart Taker’s leg. Bret Hart then didn’t give Taker any time as he limped to the corner and stomped on his leg again before he pulled Undertaker’s long legs towards the post.
Bret slammed Taker’s leg to the post and Shawn kept calling himself the LAW to Bret as Vince said he was surprised he could hold himself from hitting Bret.
Hart then slammed Taker’s knee joint to the canvas and Bret Hart expertly held a leg lock on The Deadman. A systematic, methodical approach that the Hitman executed so well. The excellence of execution.
Taker grabbed onto Bret’s hair to try and get out of the hold and Shawn would tell him to knock it off.
Eventually when Hart let go Taker rolled out of the ring and gave Pillman and Owen a shot to the head each on the outside.
The Undertaker then got back in the ring and hit a hard chokeslam on Bret Hart! That got the crowd back into the match. Shawn Michaels missed this as he was making sure Pillman and Owen stayed out of the match and then Taker was pissed off that HBK missed the count. Bret then grabbed Taker and drove Taker’s back into the ring apron twice before being told by Shawn to get back in the ring. The Hitman then with a double axehandle to Taker’s kidney area after ramming his back into the outside of the Ring Apron. Bret then with big huge blows to his back and then a side walk slam. Bret then applied a vicous looking back breaker with his knee to Taker.
Taker sit up and looked extremely pissed off until The Hitman hit another side walk slam and went up to the second rope and fingered both sides of the crowd. (Hillarious) Bret jumped off with an elbow drop but only got a two.
The pace was good from here on out as the match went back and forth.
Taker hit a nice flying clothesline after about 5 minutes of solid back and forth competition which saw the to go at it with a variety of moves.
Taker drove Bret sternum first into the buckle. Taker then hit a leg drop but only got a two count.
Taker then grabbed Bret from the outside apron and then Chokeslammed him in the center of the ring with a hard blow and HBK only counted to two, JR says you’ve gotta give Bret credit for kicking out and Lawler sticking with going for the heels said it was a fast count. (AND KING USUALLY HATES BRET) Which is hillarious.
Bret kicked Taker in the groin who was on the top attempting old school. Bret Hart caught Taker on the top of the rope for a suplex but Taker fell by accident and nearly fell off but Bret grabbed him then applied a superplex from the top of the rope to the middle of the ring.
Bret had Taker in the Sharpshooter and TAKER BROKE it and kicked Bret off as he sailed through the middle ropes!
Jim Ross deserves some credit here for calling that spot with pure emotion!
He said no one had ever done that! Bret then got scooped up by The Deadman when he came back in the ring but Bret got out of that predicament as he put Taker into a dangerous one of his own. Bret slid down Taker’s back through the bottom of the ring and outside the bottom rope and then hit Taker’s leg on the ring post. Bret Hart then smacked Taker in the head with a steel chair after he got pushed by Taker into Shawn so he was out and couldn’t see it.
Shawn came back in and counted to two but Bret argued it was three after Bret couldn’t believe Taker would kick out. Bret stomped on Taker in the corner and Shawn pulled him off.
At 28:09, The Hitman became the NEW World Wrestling Federation Champion for a fifth time after one of my favourite endings to any match. HBK takes the chair away from Bret. Hart spits in his face. HBK goes to hit Bret with the chair as The Hitman ducks he hits Taker. Shawn is forced to count the three and he does it in dramatic fashion as everyone is shocked and Michaels is pissed. Shawn storms off and Taker goes after him starting there brilliant feud while The Hitman signals he is a 5 time Champion and the crowd throw garbage into the ring.
Bret is back on top of the World Wrestling Federation for the final time in his career after an excellent classic.
I loved it! All of it! I still mark out almost as much as I did when I watched this match live on PPV.
It’s a beautiful piece of work and I love it more then most. It is amazing to be absolutely honest, love the chemistry between these two.
Great way to end the show!
A great ride and an awesome match! Brilliant and incredible in a lot of ways and all three guys did a superb job.
It’s still by all means a CLASSIC!
Final Rating for WWF Summerslam 1997 = 7.5/10
This show was a very good one! Probably the best Summerslam for my money since 1992.
An Excellent Cage Match, a good European title contest, average to good matches with Pillman-Goldust, Road Warriors-Godwinns, and the decent at best 8 man tag, BUT THEN we had the two great main events in Bret-Taker and Owen-Austin. Despite business not quite booming just yet (but would shortly) you could again see the signs that the WWE were headed into the right direction with this show. I loved it and it’s a personal favourite despite not being AMAZING. Overall enjoyable and good enough for a 7.5/10 rating!
I would like to know why you feel that way, the match had tremendous chemistry and psychology.
Taker/Hart – **1/4