Monday 26 March 2012

Retro Review: WWF One Night Only 1997 By Marc Elusive

Editor's note: I asked Marc for this review as I was there live and at the time thought it was something special especially the last 2 matches at the end of article you will see a highlights youtube video where I will be visable :) Anyway, enjoy the review.

NEC Arena, Birmingham, England; September 20, 1997

Commentators: Vince McMahon, Jerry “The King” Lawler & Jim Ross

This was a pay-per-view that aired in England on Sky Box Office. In between In Your House 17 “Ground Zero” and In Your House 18 “Badd Blood”; I placed it with the In Your Houses because it is essentially an In Your House (or a glorified Raw), took place as a secondary PPV during a time when they were called “In Your Houses” it is just not titled as such.

Dude Love vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna): Pre-match, the Dude cuts a cheesy promo mimicking Austin Powers. Hunter was the King of the Ring and been hanging with Shawn Michaels in the still unnamed D-Generation X stable; Dude Love is one of Mick Foley’s alter-egos and a play on a character Foley pretended to be in his youth. Dude controls with a shoulderblock and a slap; he hits a reverse elbow and a backdrop. Dud does the Charleston dance and Hunter sneaks in an eye poke. Dude comes back with double chops and rams him into the buckle; Hunter retreats to the floor and tries to reenter but Dude knocks him off. The WWF looks like they got the special ring apron delivered the morning of the show and did not have time to iron out the many folds created by the packaging. Hunter tries to boot the Dude but he catches the boot and controls the arm and drives knees into the arm. The Dude arm tosses Hunter over his shoulder and applies another armbar; Helmsley breaks free and tries a drop-toe hold but the Dude jumps over it and applies his own drop-toe hold taking Helmsley down into a leglock. Dude applies up an Indian deathlock and then punches in the corner; Hunter gets whipped upside-down in the corner and traps himself in the Tree of Woe. The Dude mounts the buckles and chops Hunter’s knees for a fan-assisted ten count and then the running elbow. Dude tunes up the band for Sweet Shin Music but it misses and Hunter retreats to the floor where Chyna surprises him with a clothesline. Helmsley takes over from there and hangs Dude off the top rope; Hunter punches in the corner and Chyna sneaks in a few free shots as well. Dude tries to comeback but Hunter counters a telegraphed backdrop into a facebuster for a nearfall. Helmsley applies a rope-assisted abdominal stretch; the referee catches him so Hunter gets in his face and shoves him, the referee ain’t taking’ shit tonight so he shoves back and lays in the verbal tirade. RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH! Hunter trembles in the corner, eventually retreating to the floor to a MASSIVE ovation. Back in the ring, Dude comes back and bulldogs him for a nearfall; Hunter immediately turns it back to his favor with a swinging neckbreaker and bows at him. He tries the Pedigree but Love counters and catapults him into the turnbuckle; they recover and Dude makes his comeback. He sends Hunter into the buckle for a Mr. Perfect-like flip sell. The Dude clotheslines Hunter into the corner but meets a boot on the second time; Helmsley climbs to the top but the Dude recovers and arm drags him off the top. Dude hits Sweet Shin Music followed by the double-arm DDT but Chyna puts Hunter’s foot on the top rope to break the referee’s count. Dude Love argues with Chyna allowing Helmsley to recover and land the Pedigree for the three count. 8/10 Great match between these two as they have been feuding since the King of the Ring so their work has become quite polished as they helped get each other over for bigger and better things.

British fans lay their opinions on who will win the European title match tonight; a lot more Shawn Michaels picks than I thought.

Tiger Ali Singh (w/Tiger Jeet Singh) vs. Leif Cassidy: Sunny is the special guest ring announcer; this is Ali Singh’s in-ring debut. Pre-match, Ali Singh says he wants to everyone to stay drug free and call himself the messiah; Jeet Singh rambles in Hindi until Leif (Al Snow) attacks Tiger Ali from behind. Tiger Ali comes back with punches and boots away in the corner. Singh tosses Cassidy cross-corner a few times and hits a nice belly-to-belly overhead release suplex. Tiger boots away but Leif slides off a counter and hits a pair of clotheslines and a spin kick. Leif applies an armlock and tosses him into the corner; Cassidy wrings the arm and drops a leg onto it, he stays on it with an armbar and maintains it. Tiger fights back and “hits” a float-over schoolboy rollup for two. Cassidy tries to set up a superplex but Singh does not get his legs up high enough and barley gets on the turnbuckles; Tiger pushes him off and drops a top-rope bulldog for three. 2/10 The match was awful as Tiger seemed to have no idea what to do in the ring; he wasn’t bad on the microphone so they eventually repackaged him as a high-caste heel but he failed at that so he eventually became a manager and then was released.

WWF Tag Team Championship The Headbangers vs. Los Boricuas: The Headbangers won the titles in an upset at Ground Zero and this maybe their first defense. Savio Vega and Miguel Perez are repping the Boricuas tonight and attack the Bangers from behind. Mosh and Thrasher come back with stereo clotheslines; Perez attacks Mosh from behind but gets nailed with a Mosh Pit avalanche in the corner and arm drags him down into an armbar. Thrasher tags in and hits a second-rope clothesline; Savio charges in and they clothesline and double elbow drop him. Savio legally tags in and hiptosses Thrasher into a mat head scissors; Thrasher reverses it and applies his own mat head scissors until Vega makes the ropes. Miguel tags in as the fans chant “Headbangers”; boy, they sure were over. Mosh applies a side headlock; Savio hits the ol’ Tully Blanchard kick from the apron move to get the Boricuas the advantage. Savio tags in and hammers away in the corner he tosses him cross-corner and swings the trapped spinning wheel kick. Miguel tags in and applies a headlock and drops a leg; he clotheslines Thrasher to keep the advantage. Los Boricuas use another time-tested tag heat maneuver; they draw Mosh into the ring and hammer away on Thrasher while the referee is chasing Mosh back to the apron, then they illegally switch with no tag. Vega applies a trapezius hold; Thrasher fires back and hits a crossbody but Savio recovers quicker and hits a spinning wheel kick for nearfall. Miguel returns and bodyslams Thrasher and hits a second-rope senton followed by a backflip splash for a nearfall; Perez applies another trapezius lock. Savio suckers Mosh into chasing him outside the ring so there is no one home when Thrasher attempts the tag. Miguel plays to the crowd and hits a vertical suplex; Mosh breaks up the pinfall to a big pop but the Boricuas stomp away on Thrasher whilst the referee is dealing with him. We get a false tag spot allowing more devastation to Thrasher; the crowd fires him out of a chinlock but runs into a knee. Savio tries a splash but Thrasher gets the knees up and almost makes the tag but Savio knocks Mosh off the apron; Miguel applies a reverse chinlock. Thrasher sneaks in a sunset flip but it only gets two; Savio misses a Stinger splash and Thrasher drives a backdrop suplex. Thrasher FINALLY makes the tag to Mosh cleans house on the Boricuas hitting a dropkick and clotheslining Savio to the floor. Mosh hits a super hurracanrana for two and the match breaks down; Mosh powerslams Perez but Savio interrupts the count. Mosh backdrops Savio on the floor as Perez powerbombs Thrasher in the ring; Mosh climbs to the top and hits the Stage Dive for three to a GIGANTIC ovation. 5.5/10 Pretty good match with a LONG heat sequence; the Boricuas busted out every sheep heel tag tactic this side of Ric Flair to assist the Bangers overness.

The British Bulldog discusses his sister who is battling cancer and dedicates his match to her; he says his parents and family will be in the arena. Davey Boy says this is one of the biggest moments of his career.

Flash Funk vs. The Patriot: This is an unusual babyface match; the Patriot gets some boos as the fans boo Old Glory. The Code of Honor is followed; and they do some takedowns and mat wrestling. A top wristlock by the Patriot and he controls with a shoulderblock; Flash gets in a few avoidance moves and hits a dropkick. Funk misses a spin kick and the Patriot clotheslines him; he applies a reverse chinlock. The Patriot controls with another clothesline and drops a head-butt. Patriot applies a reverse chinlock; Vince McMahon has to interject that the rest of the world may view Americans as pompous, hence the booing of the Patriot. Funk avoids a corner charge and flips onto the ropes and comes off the top with a crossbody for two. Patriot blocks another spin kick but then just stands there and waits for Flash to clothesline him; Funk applies a reverse chinlock. Flash drives a knee into the head and then snapmares into another chinlock. Patriot tries a comeback but gets short-clotheslined; Funk lays chops in, in the corner, but the Patriot no-sells. He reverses a whip into the corner and drops Funk with an atomic drop/back suplex combo but takes forever on a cover and gets a nearfall so we go back to the reverse chinlock. Funk switches into a reverse surfboard-like hold and segues into an armbar. Flash hits an inverted spinning wheel kick for a nearfall; Patriot hits a powerslam. Flash comes back with a led scissors roll up for two; Patriot hits a clothesline, he goes to the top for the Patriot Missile but it only gets a nearfall. Funk comes back and splashes him in the corner. Funk to the top and hits a twisting splash for two; Flash goes for the moonsault but it meets knees. Uncle Slam follows and gets the three count for the Patriot to the chagrin of the Brits in attendance. 4/10 Basic simple match; the reverse crowd reactions and the commentary banter made this match.

The Legion of Doom says they are coming for the Godwinns and payback is a bitch; Hawk sneaks in a little nursery rhyme.

Legion of Doom vs. The Godwinns: The LOD (legit) broke Henry Godwinn’s neck and they slowly turned heel during their impending revenge tour; Hank starts off with Animal. They lock up and stalemates a few times; Henry reverses a whip and sledges away. Animal immediately comes back and shoulderblocks Henry to the floor; Phineas gets a tag so does Hawk. Hawk punches and kicks and hits a running clothesline; Hawk misses a second tag and posts his shoulder. Phineas applies a chinlock and drives him down. Henry misses an elbow drop and Hawk comes back with a clothesline; Hawk jawjacks him. Animal returns and the LOD double clothesline him and Animal hits the chinlock. Phineas sneaks in a knee from the apron and Henry Cactus clotheslines Animal to the floor and the Godwinns take over. Phineas tags in and hits a Fujiwara armbar and works it into a hammerlock; Hank tags in and continues the arm work. Phineas comes in for a standing arm breaker but misses a second rope something allowing Hawk a tag. Hawk hammers away on the Godwinns and drops Phineas into a neckbreaker. Hank tosses Animal to the floor and they double clothesline Hawk. Henry hits the Slop Drop and then keeps Animal at bay but only gets a nearfall; Phineas chokes Hawk with the Godwinns’ Confederate flag in the corner whilst Hank distracts Animal and the referee. Phineas tags in and applies a trapezius hold. That move is quite popular tonight. Phineas folds up Hawk with a knee in the kidneys; more Godwinn double teaming ensues. Hawk comes back with a pair of clotheslines and tags in Animal; he hits a dropkick and a powerslam. The Godwinns try a double back suplex but Animal lands on his feet and double clotheslines them. Hawk clotheslines Hank to the floor and nail Phineas with the Doomsday Device for the three count. 4/10 Late in career LOD matches all ends the same; kill someone with a Doomsday Device. The Godwinns did a good job keeping the heat on them as well.

Jim Ross is in the ring to talk to Ken Shamrock who was scheduled to wrestle Owen Hart but was injured by Faarooq by a spinebuster. Shamrock says if it was up to him he’d be ready to knuckle-up; he says he has a punctured lung. He is thankful for his ovation but is upset he cannot compete; Rockabilly struts to the ring. Rockabilly calls him on his injury and runs him down and slaps him. Shamrock slaps the ankle lock on him and he taps out.

Bret Hart says he believes he is still the great champion he always was; he reiterates he is the best there is the best there was and the best there ever will be. Bret says the Undertaker will be a difficult challenge. This Bret is more like the babyface version since they are not on American soil; he admits is does matter what the British fans think of him.

Vader vs. Owen Hart: Vader is subbing for Ken Shamrock who was injured; Owen gets a huge babyface ovation, Jim Ross says it is residual babyface heat from teaming with the British Bulldog. Owen drapes his Canadian flag all over Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler at the announce table, yelling at Vince as he goes by; he makes fun of Owen’s haircut foreshadowing his Mr. McMahon character. Vader pushes Owen around the ring and hits a vertical body splash sending Hart to the floor. Owen sunset flips Vader and avoids the impending sit-down splash and hits a Frankensteiner; Owen moves in cautiously as Vader looks a little shaken there. Vader reverses a whip but Hart busts out a springboard crossbody for two; Owen tries the Sharpshooter but Vader shoves himself free. Vader blocks a vertical suplex but Hart slips over the back and schoolboys Vader for two. Owen goes for the Sharpshooter again but Vader grabs the ropes. Vader turns Owen’s crucifix attempt into a Samoan drop; Vader squashes Owen with a second-rope splash but HE KICKS OUT to a massive reaction. Vader methodically dismantles Owen and tosses him into the corner chest first really hard; Vader pummels Owen with punches. Hart tries a bodyslam but cannot get him up; Vader applies an armbar. Jim Ross mentions Vader’s detention in Kuwait for scaring the crap out of some reporters as he segues into a chinlock. Vader hits an avalanche and drives him down into a Fujiwara armbar; Vader moves down to the leg and applies a leglock. Owen fights free and avoids an avalanche but he tries to bodyslam Vader again but gets hammered again. I’m sure if he does slam Vader the place will come apart; looks like an old Bret Hart psychology trick. Vader delivers more punishment in the form of a clothesline and punches to the face; he reapplies the leglock. Hart fights free again but Vader peppers him with more lefts and rights. Vader splashes Owen for two; he tries a powerbomb but Owen flips out and lands the enziguri. Hart applies the Sharpshooter but Vader makes the ropes. Owen finally BODYSLAMS Vader… to a huge eruption! See it worked. It only gets a two count though. Owen is fired up but runs right into Vader; the Vader Bomb meets knees and Hart heads to the top and lands a missile dropkick. Owen nips-up and the crowd goes ballistic. Hart hits a spinning wheel kick but it only gets another two; Owen heads up again… but gets caught with a powerslam for three. 8.5/10 That was a damn good match; Owen Hart as a babyface in his King of Harts character is something to see. He could have been huge over as a babyface but a few things derailed that, specifically he was such a great cheating whiny heel.

Undertaker, bathed in blue light, says that Shawn Michaels will not be there to help Bret Hart tonight; Taker will expose the true demon that is Bret Hart… taglines are hit.

WWF Heavyweight Championship Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Undertaker: This is the only rematch from Summerslam ’97 (that I can recall happening and is available on Tombstone: The History of the Undertaker DVD. Bret receives a warm welcome in England. Taker stalks at the bell but Bret avoids and punches away. Taker says “ok, enough of this shit”, reverses and kicks the crap out of Bret in the corner. Undertaker choke tosses Bret and lays into him in the corner. Vince McMahon gets all Shylock claiming Undertaker could extract his pound of flesh tonight. Bret undoes a turnbuckle while the Undertaker intimidates the referee all of the way to the floor. Taker whips Bret cross-corner but the follow up charge meets Bret’s feet; Hart comes back and drives Taker towards the exposed buckle. Taker cuts it off with a short-clothesline. Taker misses an elbow drop and, like his brother earlier, immediately goes for a Sharpshooter but Taker kicks him off and sits-up; Bret clotheslines him back down. A clothesline sends Taker to the floor and follows up with a slingshot baseball slide; Bret tries to come off the apron but gets caught in a spinebuster onto the floor. He then rams Hart’s back into the post, Bret hobbles into the aisle, and they fight there and onto the stage where the Undertaker bodyslams him onto the ramp. They continue to battle in the aisle and back into the ring; Taker pummels Bret for a brief period until Bret hits a DDT. Taker tries to sit-up so Hart drops legs and drives elbows to keep him there; he keeps getting up, vexing Bret. Hart gets a whip reverses and he goes sternum first into the exposed turnbuckle; Taker works the chest utilizing a rare heart punch. He keeps the heat on, dropping elbows and applies a bow-and-arrow lock and segues into a crucifix like roll-up for two. Bret stomps the toes of the Undertaker, trying to crated distance, but one shot puts Hart back down and he applies a backbreaker into a the backbreaker stretch (submission hold); he releases for a nearfall. Hart kicks the legs again but Taker counters a whip into an elbow out of the corner; Taker misses a knee in the corner damaging worsening the leg and allowing Bret to work a body part. Bret vultures in on the leg stomping away as boos begin to rain down; he tenaciously works the leg and eventually applies the ringpost figure-four. Back in the ring, Bret applies a traditional figure-four leglock; after almost two minutes of leglock the Undertaker turns Hart over forcing Bret to relinquish the hold. Taker hobbles over to Bret and punishes him in the corner and along the ropes; Undertaker misses a big boot and Bret takes over working on the leg with a grapevine. Bret keeps the advantage by avoiding a standing clothesline and drops him into the side-Russian leg sweep for two; snap-suplex and backbreaker follows but the second-rope driving elbow finds Taker’s boot. They clothesline each other for a double KO; Taker, of course, sits up first and drops a wishbone legdrop for two. Undertaker tries another wishbone legdrop but Bret catches the leg and applies the Sharpshooter from the canvas (à la Summerslam ’91 (full review, click here)) but the Undertaker powers out and Bret goes right back for the hold but gets goozled; Hart kicks the leg out but Taker pummels his midsection from his knees. Undertaker scores with a big boot and a legdrop, brother… for two. What a match! Onto the floor, Bret grabs the ring bell but Taker boots him in the face before he can use it; Taker tries to use it but the referee saves him a DQ by ascertaining it, Bret uses the distraction to clip his leg. Bret hits some rope-assisted splashes until the Undertaker kicks him over the top onto the cameraman; he joins Hart on the floor and launches him into the ring steps. Back in the ring, Taker tries to cross-whip Hart into the padless turnbuckle; Bret falls to his knees to avoid the steel but winds up going back-first into the ringpost. Ropewalk Forearm attempt but Bret pulls him off the top; Taker tries a Tombstone but Bret counters into an O’Connor roll… for two. Bret tries a Tombstone but Taker reverses it; Bret grabs the ropes to Taker lets him go and Hart hangs his head in the top rope. The Undertaker annihilates a defenseless Bret, despite the referee’s warning, and gets disqualified. Post-match, Undertaker will not stop attacking Bret so the referee tries to stop him so the Undertaker chokeslams the referee. A few WWF officials including Gerald Brisco and Owen Hart run down to free Bret; Taker catches Brisco and chokeslams him as well. 9/10 Great match, despite the schmoz ending, with the great storyline of Bret working over the leg and the Undertaker refusing to stay down.

Shawn Michaels says he is going to be the first grand slam winner, adding the European title to his collection. Shawn had his crew of Rick Rude, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna but they were not referred to D-Generation X yet.

WWF European Championship British Bulldog (w/Tracy Smith)vs. Shawn Michaels: This match is widely accepted as the “birth” of DX despite them having been working together for weeks. Bulldog is insanely over, obviously; Shawn is beginning to work in his DX shtick here as well. The Bulldog tosses HBK all around the ring showcasing his power advantage; Davey Boy drives Michaels up the ropes and then flings him off the top. Bearhug by the Bulldog followed by a pair or running backdrops and then a clothesline over the top where Shawn lands face-first on the steel ring barricade. Shawn feigns leaving. Michaels pokes the Bulldog in the eyes and gets a few shots but Davey Boy comes back and brings HBK back into the ring via inverted suplex; press-slam, and Davey Boy threatens to toss him to the floor, but the referee keeps getting in between to prevent it so he just drops HBK in the ring and applies an abdominal stretch. Michaels hiptosses free and stomps away, he charges, so the Bulldog backdrops him to the floor and then slingshots him back into the ring. Bulldog arm drags him into an armbar and maintains it with armlock lifts; Shawn forearms free and runs the ropes, the Bulldog leapfrogs one too many times and Michaels pokes him in the eyes upon his landing. A hurracanrana by Michaels is countered into a Batista Bomb by the Bulldog and he returns to a hammerlock; Michaels fights free and tries a crucifix but the Bulldog turns it into a Samoan drop. Davey Boy locks up a Mexican surfboard, but is forced to release, due to his shoulders being pinned. Davey argues with referee Earl Hebner and allows Michaels to take the leg out and stomp away; the Bulldog counters a telegraphed backdrop into the delayed vertical suplex for a nearfall. Michaels’ insurance policy Rick Rude saunters to the ring and helps free Shawn from an O’Connor roll; the Bulldog begins to fire back but Rude trips him up. Davey Boy takes a swipe at him and gets sledged to the floor by Michaels; HBK distracts the referee allowing Rude to post Davey Boy, Shawn follow up with a top-rope sledge. Rude continues to cause complications at ringside, shoving the Bulldog into the ring apron, back in the ring, Shawn hits a reverse elbow. Michaels applies a sleeper hold for a while. Bulldog back suplexes free and Michaels maintains the advantage tossing the Bulldog into the buckle, hard. HBK hiptosses into a short-arm scissors; Bulldog powers up into a one-armed Electric Chair and then they run the ropes for a double KO as Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna head out to ringside to join Rude in Shawn’s corner. Bulldog backdrops Michaels nearly into orbit and sends him upside-down in the corner; he gets a nearfall off a slingshot into the buckle. Davey Boy misses a charge and posts his shoulder; Shawn hits a pair of top-rope elbow smashes and tunes up the band. The Bulldog is so out of it from the elbows he does not get up so Shawn props him in the corner to deliver the superkick but it misses and Davey Boy scoops him up for the powerslam but Rude grabs the Bulldog’s ankle. The Bulldog avoids calamity and clotheslines Michaels on the other side of the ring but Hunter is waiting on that side. The Bulldog quickly dispatches with him and tries the running powerslam on the floor but his leg slips off the matting and gets wedged between the ringside area and the ring platform. Shawn catches him with Sweet Chin Music and Hunter and Rude both work over his leg on the floor; Shawn distracts the referee as Helmsley Pedigrees him on the floor. Shawn removes the Bulldog’s DonJoy and tosses it at Diana Hart-Smith seated at ringside. Sexual harassment? Michaels applies a figure-four leglock on the unprotected knee; Chyna and Hunter assist by pulling on Michaels’ arms for more leverage. The Bulldog nearly has Michaels turned over so Rude gives him a shot knocking him back into the ring. The Bulldog eventually passes out and Shawn wins the European title and becomes the first ever four-belt grand slam winner. Post-match, the fans nearly riot and toss stuff into the ring; Michaels grabs a microphone and insults the Hart family and humiliates Diana. Shawn reapplies the figure-four; Diana gets in the ring to help out but Chyna grabs her. Bret Hart and Owen Hart run in to save their sister and brother-in-law. 8.5/10 Great match as DX officially formed as Triple H, Shawn and Chyna celebrated and became full on douche heel. The Bulldog never submitted, saving face, and Shawn broke his English undefeated streak. Michaels used his character to begin to help catapult the WWF back to respectability.

OVERALL 8.5/10 This is a really excellent pay-per-view continuing on the excellence of 1997; Bret, Taker, Undertaker, the Bulldog, Owen and Vader all delivered excellent matches as did Foley and Helmsley. Even the “pencil this in for a crap match” matches did well Godwinns/LOD and the Bangers/Boricuas was good too. The official “birth” of the group that would become known as D-Generation X was here and it would be Bret Hart of all people who would coin the phrase.

If you have any comments hit me up on twitter @MarcElusive and my site is

Here is a highlight video from the show

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