We take a random trip down memory lane to the In Your House series and today we are in “The Heart of the New West” Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede was the fourth pay-per-view the WWE had hosted at the time and was well received, drawing an attendance at the Canadian Airlines SaddleDome of 12,151 making 228K at the gate and an additional 60K in merchandise. This would break all revenue records at the time. The fans were pumped up on July 6, 1997 to hear Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon call this short card. The feature match had the feuding self proclaimed, “Canadian Hero” Brett Hart, leading a team of Owen Hart, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Brian Pillman and The British Bulldog, facing off against Stone Cold Steve Austin and his group of outcasts. (Goldust, Ken Shamrock and the Legion of Doom). It was an interesting PPV as the rest of the world viewed The Hart Foundation as a Heel faction but in their home of Canada they were viewed as Baby Faces.
The opening vignette, done in black and white, is well put together and does a good job recapping the events that led to Canadian Stampede. The Narrator starts by telling us “We no longer live in a world of black and white, but gray rather”. He goes on to have some cool lines like “renegades receive a heroes embrace”, as the video shows Stone Cold pounding Steve-weisers. The video shows us Brett’s heel turn, including the iconic shot of Austin bleeding profusely as The Hitman applies the Sharpshooter at WM13, the creation of The Hart Foundation and the events leading to today. The segment ends with the Canadian Stampede logo flying through the dessert and pyro on the entrance stage. The crowd is popping as Vince introduces the event. Check these outfits out.
The first match on the card we see a future WWE Hall Of Famer and a already inducted WWE Hall Of Famer square off. The 2013 inductee, Mick Foley, as his Mankind persona, will meet the founder and producer of NXT and current executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative at WWE, Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Hunter would be joined, by his real life girlfriend at the time, “The Ninth Wonder of the World”, Chyna. Who would of thought that these two men would combine for a total of 17 Heavyweight Titles. Foley with four, if you count the TNA Title, and Triple H with 13, which is third all time, behind Flair and Cena. Oh, hindsight.
The 1997 King of the Ring winner, Hunter Hearst Helmsley enters the arena first, accompanied by Chyna, to a negative response. We see a vignette that compares Triple H’s “Blue Blood” upbringing to Mankind’s, which includes a clip from the early Dude Love promos Foley made as a teen. They are worth a look for any fan of the business. The video goes on to show highlights from there King of the ring match, that was full of outside interference from Chyna, in which Mankind took blows from both the Scepter and the Crown and a Pedigree through an announce table. Most likely the Spanish one. Mankind is on his way down next and I can’t forget how deranged and creepy I thought this was a kid. I Mean the dude would yank his own hair out for fun.
Triple H waste no time going for Mankind as soon as he hits the ring but he doesn’t take long to get back in the fight. Mankind hits the double armhook DDT and taunts Hunter with his own curtsy. The bumps are hard early and don’t slow down one step throughout. Mankind sends Helmsley over the top rope and hits his famous elbow drop from the apron. They continue up the ramp where Hunter takes a solid suplex and JR calls Mankind “The Prime Minister of Parts Unknown,” something I noticed and enjoyed. The crowd is really popping at this point and they are really into it early, understandably so. Mankind goes for an early finisher, The Mandible Claw, but this is where we get our first interference from Chyna. This leads to his really first offensive move of the match, Irish whipping Mankind to Chyna for the scoop slam into the steel stairs. Vince is quick to point out that Mankind hit his lower, left leg on the stairs. A statement that would prove to be Triple H’s work for the match. He waste no time going to work on the leg of mankind, a chair shot amongst other ways.
After some wear down, Hunter applies a figure four and uses the ring ropes for leverage behind the refs back, in perfect heel fashion. The ref breaks the hold after he catches Hunter in the act. This leads to Mankind countering a Pedigree with what Jim Ross calls an “inadvertent low blow. The King Continues with “now Chyna wont be happy about that”. Now there is a rib I am surprised Stephanie didn’t edit out. Mankind hits a brutal looking pull piledriver that shows exactly why the move isn’t in use much today. A double clothesline from Mankind sends both men over the top rope for yet another hard looking bump. Mankind soon goes for a chair shot of his own but Chyna interrupts giving way for Helmsley to counter with a chair shot to Mankind’s injured leg. He goes for a second attempt that the referee foils but leaves a moment for Chyna to land a jarring clothesline on Mankind. Back in the ring Mankind counters Triple H’s attempt at a highspot and locks in the Mandible Claw. Only to have it spoiled by Chyna grabbing the leg and hitting a spread eagle low blow into the ring post. The match continues outside and into the crowd and before long, and obviously not ten seconds, we hear the bell sound. As the fight continue through the crowd we hear Howard Finkel announce a double count out. Soon thereafter Mankind slams Hunter in to the home team’s, The Calgary Flames, penalty box. Helmsley comes out of the box spotting some crimson on his face and the brawl continues with referees and Chyna in the mix until they can be separated.
Going into this match and watching Foley perform, I was expecting the hard bumps to fall on Mick. After watching it back i can say that Hunter took the hardest ones here but Foley didn’t disappoint. This match was amazing and watching it back I can see why these two Superstars went on to have the careers they did. It’s a shame things turned out the way they did with Chyna because she was also great here. I wish I could I have started this segment with TWO current Hall of Fame inductees and one future inductee.
There is a quick promo next for the Calgary Stampede that is taking place the same weekend as the Canadian Stampede. “The Greatest Outdoors Show On Earth”, The Calgary Stampede is a ten day, annual rodeo festival that the WWE modeled this event around. The promo shows the annual parade, which featured Miss Calgary 1997 Diana Smith, The wife of The British Bulldog, and The Hart Foundation. Doc Hendrix, in his best FM radio DJ voice, would tell us that Brett Hart spent the whole day signing every last autograph. Bruce Pritchard would confirm this, on his podcast Something to Wrestle, saying that it was in fact true because someone never cut the line off and Brett didn’t want to disappoint someone who had waited. We also get to see a few bits of the Tug ‘O’ War match versus the local Calgary fire department. The only thing about this that I liked is they didn’t put the firefighters over on this charity event and beat them. This promo ends with The Hitman making an appearance at the Calgary Stampede to a great pop, of course. This leads us to Doc Hendricks, AKA Michael P. Hayes, interviewing The Hart Foundation.
Stone Cold would interrupt the interview at the start and be held back by Pat Patterson. Brett Would say “what’s it gonna prove if we beat up Steve Austin back here. It’s gonna prove he got beat up 5 on 1. That’s not what we want, we want 5 on 5.” This was different, as Brett has been a Heel in recent months in the WWE but would try to be made out as a Face in this promo.
The next match would start by Vince saying “some of the greatest athletes you’ll ever feast your eyes on, the light heavyweight division”. The match would feature The Great Sasuke squaring off against Taka Michinoku. This was an interesting match as it was different than what the WWE was accustomed to. This was a way to promote what would be a new title, The Light Heavyweight Championship. They really wanted Taka here but Michinoku felt like he owed one to Sasuke, as he was the owner and founder of Michinoku Pro Wrestling where Taka had gotten his start, so he came along for this match but would be gone soon after. The WWE would send Undertaker, Sunny and Chris Candino to Japan as part of the deal with Sasuke for a short tour. Enough of the setup and back to the mat.
Taka Michinoku would enter the arena first and The Great Sasuke would follow. When Sasuke enters Howard Finkels say “and also from Japan”. I found that entertaining as most of the commentary in this match is, as it is something different than what they normally call. The biggest take away from the commentary is that it seemed as only Jim Ross would know the names of the different moves used in this match.
The debut of these two Superstars is interrupted before it can begin as it is revealed that Hunter Hearst Helmsey, with Chyna still in hand, and Mankind still continue to brawl from the back and through the crowd. Hunter still wearing a “Crimson Mask”. This is another spot, like the lightweight guys, that is not familiar territory for the WWE at the time and is something, in my opinion, they acquired from watching ECW’s gaining steam.
After the interruption ends, the bell sounds and we are off to a slow start, but soon picks up and doesn’t miss a beat from there. After a few early 2 counts, off from some roll maneuvers, we get our first pop from the crowd with a nice roundhouse kick to Taka’s chest. The crowd is starting to really feel the match after some dropkicks, on Sasuke from Taka, that leads to a counter that sends Michinoku to the outside. The first big highspot comes when, off the top turnbuckle, Sasuke hits the face of Taka with, as JR would say, “a Martial Arts kick”. I expected a “what a maneuver” from Vince here to no avail. We get some more quality back and fourth that leads, to what I think is the biggest pop of the match, a springboard pancha from Taka off the top rope to the outside. Then we see our first false finish after Michinoku hits a hurricanrana on Sasuke. The next highspot would be a springboard moonsault from Sasuke off the second rope on the outside. More Pop. His momentum wouldn’t last long after a missle dropkick from the top turnbuckle is landed by Taka. He would follow up with a devastating Michinoku Driver, his finish, but would only get another two count. Michinoku would soon find himself in trouble when his highspot is countered with a dropkick to the midsection. The Great Sasuke would follow up with a “Razor’s Edge” type powerbomb and would get the three with a double armhook suplex/pin combination.
This match would show the level of the product that came from Japan at the time and that they still continue to produce until this day. I was entertained throughout the entire match and the high spots were amazing. The brutal kicks these two men took to the face were either amazing works or extremely dangerous. The crowd loved the match, as did I. This bout between The great Sasuke and Taka Michinoku is must see “Sports Entertainment”.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Mankind are at it again and this time outside in the back lot. Mankind bangs Hunter’s head off a bus before Chyna could grab hold of his arms. Helmsley soon unleashes a few punches on Foley that don’t appear to be pulled. Hunter would throw Mankind into some beer kegs before breaking a shovel over his back. They would find them self on top of some solid wood boxes and Triple H’s Pedigree would be countered. Mankind would ring Hunter’s head off a bus one more time before he is taken away by Gerald Brisco. The segment would end with a nice shot at Helmsley’s bloodied face. The way they continued this fight through the show was well done and would set them up for a steel cage match at SummerSlam 1997.
Vince and the boys would explain to use how Ahmed Johnson was originally supposed to get a Title shot here but succumbed to a knee injury in a tussle between the Nation of Domination and the biker gang themed, D.O.A. Vince was really pushing the gang angles here as they would be ever present in the coming months. I always liked Ahmed as a kid and it seemed like the company did too. Its a shame he was so injury prone.
Next we get a Vader promo where Doc asks, a strawberry blonde, Paul Bearer about the allegations of Undertaker killing his parents. Some strange shit I know. Bearer would go on about Taker murdering his whole family and some other nonsense about a mirror. This promo is the and goofy storyline is the only downside I found to this whole event thus far. We are introduced to the events leading to this match starting at The Royal Rumble. This is where we see Bearer betray The Undertaker with an urn shot to Taker’s head. Vader would land the Vader Bomb next and get the three count.
The challenger, Vader, makes his way down the aisle, accompanied by Paul Bearer first. This is the first real heat we are hearing here as Vader enter the arena and ring. The crowd goes nuts though when the bell sounds and The Heavyweight Champion, The Undertaker’s theme begins to play. This is a classic Taker entrance with the smoke, slow walk to the ring and purple lights. I found myself enjoying the whole mystique it presented, just as much as I did as an eleven year old watching this. When The Phenom hits the stairs and raises his arms “making” the lights come on, Vader has a truly spooked look on his face. Bearer is shown cowering in fear as Taker hands the title over and the bell sounds.
The Undertaker is first out of the gate with his lariat punches, a big clothesline and a leg drop, of the Hulk Hogan variety, for our first two count. The Deadman hit a big splash soon after that draws a positive reaction from the fans. Take goes to the top rope for his famous tight rope chop that if I don’t see in a Taker match, I am definitely disappointed. Another two count. Vader starts to gain some momentum after a splash, that Undertaker does his trademark sit-up from, but Vader is all over him with punches that are certainly making hard contact. It is been said by many Superstars that Vader didn’t pull his punches and when he hit you, he hit you. We see a sidehead lock applied by Vader next that is the only dull spot in the match and was probably used to regain their breath. The crowd rally behind Taker and he wiggles free and misses a big boot, that Vader still sells. I think he realized he had missed because he lands the next one and it sends Vader crashing over the ropes to the outside.
Vader reverses Undertaker’s Irish whip to the stair and Paul Bearer is done being scared and is now talking trash. We get some good back and forth but the crowd is electric and committed to the fight anfter Taker comes off the top rope for a clothesline. Another two count. For a 400 plus pound man, Vader takes another hard hump off an uppercut that sends him over the top rope and crashing to the outside. We get another trademark Undertaker move next, His backflip ring exit. He goes after Paul Bearer with his patented slow walk but Vader uses it to his advantage to blindside Undertaker. As the ref is telling Vader to re-enter the ring, Bearer goes to work on Taker with his shoe. Jim Ross would say “if the heel don’t get him the smell would”. Good ole JR. Vader and Bearer are getting great heat at this point when Vader hits a Vader Bomb for his first false finish. As Undertaker starts his rally back the camera is visibly shaking and the noise is at an insane level. Vader goes to work with some more of those big punches but Taker counters and is unloading some of his own punches. Watching these punches one thing is for sure, Undertaker didn’t sell a punch like Vader did, most likely because there was nothing to sell with Vaders, as they were real. The Phenom goes for a chokeslam but Vader counters with a low blow kick. Vader comes off the rope but is scooped into the Tombstone position. The spot next is a botched reversal from Vader on the Tombstone that ended up looking better than what the original called spot would have. The place is again shaking as Vader is on the ropes for another Vader Bomb but Taker lands a low blow of his own and that sets up for a chokeslam off the second rope. 1,2… kick out. Another chokeslam and another false finish that has the crowd on their toes. We see the “Throat Slit'” from The Undertaker with his thumb next and we get a successful Tombstone Piledriver on Vader this time and the classic Undertaker cover for the pinfall. This was another great match on the card and it didn’t disappoint at all. Vince tells as Taker is celebrating that we may see Undertaker’s brother at SummerSlam. I usually enjoy the bad matches, as its always fun to point out flaws, but this match, along with the PPV so far, have had few if any. Maybe the main event will have some…
There is a quick clip of more praise, from the Canadian fans, for the Hart Foundation along with more talk of a mile long line to meet Brett. Next is a quick promo vignette show the gang-style warfare, that has been present at the time. It starts, “The events surrounding the squared circle of late have made chaos and mayhem” an continues to show the feud between Crush’s DOA, Farooq’s Nation and the Savio Vega led, Los Baricuas. It would end with “nothing pales in comparison to the feud between Steve Austin and The Hart Foundation”. They hype the Canadian versus USA angle here, rightfully so as it created great crowd heat, and show the event leading to this match. Another great promo.
Doc has a quick spot with Austin’s stable were every gets some microphone work in. But when the mic comes to Stone Cold he just walks out and Finke introduces us to The Farmer’s Daughters, who will be singing the Canadian National Anthem. The Farmer’s Daughters best charting song was titled “Cornfields and Cadillacs”. By the title alone I’m sure it’s terrible. This was well done as it created heat with the people tuning in in the States. We are introduced to The Premier of the Providence of Alberta, Ralph Kline. No idea here. Next are The Hart Family matriarch and patriarch, Stu and Helen. The place pops for the Founder of Stampede Wresting, a promotion that was a Canadian staple until Vince bought it in 1985.
Goldust makes his way to the ring first and receives mostly boos from the crowd. Ken Shamrock, who’s next, receives some decent pop but the Legion of Doom get an even better response from the fans. But when we hear that glass break and Stone Cold Steve Austin enters the arena for the first time, the place is on fire with heat from the crowd. As he hits each turnbuckle the temperature surely rises. As Brian Pillman enters, waving his arms to pump the crowd, the buzz starts to gain. As Vince would say, “The Big Nasty Rhyno”, Jim Neidhart enters next and as each member enters the arena the rumble grows and grows in anticipation of their hero, “The Hitman”. European Champion The British Bulldog, With Miss Calgary in hand, follows and Owen Hart is next, with his Slammys in hand and his IC belt around his waist. When the high pitch squeal of Brett Hart’s music comes on the place is electric.. This kind of response you will be hard pressed to find and is something you should watch as a wrestling fan. They make their way to the ring led by Brett, as they waited on the ramp for each other. Brett would put his glasses on his mother, a nice gesture from the heel.
Austin and Brett are on the ring first and are having a nice stare off. Here we hear JR mention that there are camera crews filming ringside for an upcoming Hitman documentary. This would go on to become Wrestling With Shadows. I would recommend this to any fan of from wrestling at the time as it offers some inside going-ons of the time. Brett would have to pick his spots in this fight as he was recovering from knee injury and his first one would set the pace for the fight. Austin lands some blows and is soon stomping a mudhole in the Hitman. If you listen carefully, you can hear Austin say “Fuck Off” to the Canadian fans. The crowd is giving the heat right back.
Everyone gets a chance to make an in ring appearance next, as the tags are spread around to give all the guys some spotlight. They go back and forth here shifting momentum and the crowd is reacting to every move, be it a suplex or a knee to the midsection. When Pillman comes into the ring we hear Jim Ross mention his run with the CFL team, The Calgary Stampeders. Every move Pillman does in the match is some kind of cheat tactic. Be it an eye rake, spiiting in someones face or breaking up a pinfall. He does an amazing job selling the fact that he is “The Loose Cannon”. We get some more hot tags and momentum shifts. The crowd delivers their first dose of “Austin Sucks” chants that rumble the place. The first gang fight breaks out after the Hitman hangs Goldust in his corner and the boys go to work with their boots. When the fight breaks out the crowd is on their toes and the place is electric. The crowd is in this match 100 percent and erupts once again when Owen nails the missle dropkick from the top and does a kip up. His hype is cut short when the Legion of Doom about take his head off with the vicious Doomsday Device. Anvil stops the count ans our second gang fight breaks out. Austin is going to work on the knee of Owen, as he is pelted by ten dollar beers from the fans, when Bruce Hart grabs him from the crowd and exchange blows. The crowd heat is at an all time high and the “Austin Sucks” chants are in full effect.
Owen is led to the back as the match continues. Austin hits his first Stunner on Pillman soon after but Brett grabs his foot and leads him to the ring post were he goes to work with a fire extinguisher before applying a hanging figure four. The referees soon force Austin to the back and the back and fourth continues with some pop and nothing really worth noting, except a Powerslam from Davey Boy of the top turnbuckle that looked jarring. He gets the 2 as we see Austin limp back. We get a double hot tag next from Brett and Austin. The pair go back and fourth before Hart has the Sharpshooter applied and Animal breaks it up. This has the place shaking again. I cannot emphasis enough how much the crowd was into it. Must see stuff here. Austin applies a Sharpshooter of his own when we see Owen Hart limp back out to save his brother. Owen makes the hot tag but Austin sends him tumbling outside with a clothesline over the top rope and landing in front of his family. The top comes off the place when Stone Cold grabs Stu Hart but Bruce interrupts and is soon over the barrier brawling with Steve. Another battle breaks out as Austin gets back in the ring. But Owen makes the roll up, using Austin tights and keeping them Heels by doing so, ang gets the three. At this point the place just explodes. There is another tussel with all member in the ring, Hart family included, before the police break it up. Austin goes ballistic before he is cuffed and escorted out. The show goes off air with a nice moment of all the Hart family in the ring. This would be a highlight of the family as they are all here at this time.
This way an amazing PPV and was record breaking in all revenue. Dave Meltzer would rate the event high with the matches receiving 3,4,3.25 and 4.25 star ratings. I actually agree with Dave here, but think the last match could of gotten a 5 based of crowd heat alone. I would highly suggest watching this event.
Next week we will be taking a look at Badd Blood: In Your House that took place on October 5, 1997 with Shawn Michaels taking on the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match!
Chairshot Classics: NWA-TNA Episode 24 – December 4, 2002
The next installment of Tiffany MC’s weekly Classic IMPACT!
We open with a recap of the ending of last week’s episode, but with some after show footage of Killings and Russo getting into a fight and the Harris Brothers breaking it up. While this was going on, Russo was still demanding an answer from Jarrett and Jarrett wasn’t saying anything.
After that, we hear some very familiar bagpipes and after a few minutes, the Hot Rod comes out with a young man I’m ASSUMING is his son because I have no other explanation for why this kid is here.
Piper got on the mic to cut a promo, but because the promo was so long, I’m not going to go through the whole thing here. Piper UNLOADED on Russo, saying that the NWA was the only thing Russo hadn’t killed. He said Russo was a ‘hump’ (I’m assuming he meant ‘hunk’, but you never know) of 300lbs that failed to become a wrestler and became a sport entertainer, but never had any talent, though the fact that Piper himself made a VERY good living being a sports entertainer should be pointed out. He said that Russo was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and would kill the dreams of all the young guys in the locker room. He then says he’s there to challenge Russo.
He also plugs his book, which is part of the reason he was in Nashville to start with, saying it was about a boy and his dreams. In his usual, controversial style, Piper accused Russo of all the sins in the calendar, including being the Osama Bin Laden of wrestling (YES, he said that a year after 9/11) and of killing Owen Hart, who Piper claimed to be related to (he’s not to the best of my understanding). He then, without naming names, trashed some of Russo’s ideas in WWE.
Piper then calls out Russo, who tries to pull one over, but this is Roddy Piper we’re talking about and that didn’t work. In what can best be described as a drunken rant, Piper asked Russo, who he had just PUBLICLY accused of killing Owen Hart, if he killed Owen Hart, and asked how he’d bankrupted WCW so fast. I guess Piper didn’t get the memo that WCW was having financial troubles before Russo got there.
To his credit, Russo tried to defend himself, but Piper is DEFINITELY drunk, and is a loud and stubborn drunk at that. Finally, the Harris boys come out to try and save this mess and at least get Russo out of the ring. This was NOT a great start to the show. After that mess was over, we were given an update on the Lynn/Siaki X-Division title match that was randomly announced last week: It will NOT be happening this week because Jerry Lynn is injured again.
Spanish Announce Team vs Divine Storm (with Trinity): Maximos get a good pop. Apparently, SAT and Divine Storm trained together in Brooklyn. To add some more pressure to this, the winners get a shot at the Tag Team Champions, the New Church.
How’d it go? Well…the start was something to be seen rather than described. Honestly, these guys didn’t give the appearance of people who trained together, unless they all had very short-term memories. The match was awkward, especially for the Maximos. It actually looked like two teams that were still in training. Divine Storm got the win with a big assist from Trinity, so they will be fed…er, working with the New Church for the Tag Team Championship.
Harris comes out to a great pop. The whole point to the singles matches Harris and Storm will be having against the New Church is to have a chance to get their hands on James Mitchell.
Russo interrupts, claiming that he doesn’t have an issue with Harris. He then berates Piper for the opening segment and tells him that he’s going to hell for bringing up Owen Hart’s death. He also berates the TNA fans for supporting the NWA, an organization that he claims doesn’t care about them because it’s run by old men. Showing that he has no real understanding that the fans know full well what his ‘accomplishments’ are and that’s why they’re jeering, he claims the fans don’t know what they want.
To prove just why the fans are right to jeer, Russo calls attention to the Athena signs in the crowd. It turns out that Athena is the girl who takes the wrestlers’ gear to the back for them and she is very loved by the crowd. Russo calls her into the ring and proceeds to insult, bully, and degrade Athena, to the outrage of the crowd. When Athena, rightly, slaps the shit out of him, Russo has the Harris brothers, who aren’t happy with their treatment by the NWA, attack Athena, who can’t defend herself.
Backstage, an enraged Bob Armstrong let the Harris twins have it. He reminds them that the NWA, not Vince Russo, is paying them. He also points out that he gave them shots, despite neither of them being good wrestlers and that all Russo’s going to give them is a joy ride. The Harrises aren’t listening and call Armstrong’s warning ‘Bullshit’.
At ringside, an enraged Chris Harris is also calling ‘Bullshit’ on what just happened, but he’s saying it Tenay and West. Tenay will only say that this is what happens when Russo is around and he’s not happy.
Chris Harris vs Brian Lee (with New Church): Well, we finally got to see this match. The match starts off in a brawl, but that was about the highlight of the match. Lee might bear a resemblance to Undertaker, but he’s not nearly as good of a wrestler as the Dead Man. Harris would pull out the win with a spear, so AMW is one match away from getting their hands on James Mitchell.
Backstage, Goldy finds Ron Killings talking to a subtly pleased Bob Armstrong. Killings wants Russo’s ass for robbing him of the NWA Title. Armstrong is very understanding but tells him that he has to deal with the Harris twins first, by tagging with Jeff Jarrett.
James Storm vs Slash (with New Church): Round two of this starts with a sneak attack by Slash. Sensing that the Church was in trouble. Mitchell, Lee, and Bella Donna all did their part to try and help Slash win, but Storm was more determined. That said, this was a much better match than the previous one. Slash is definitely the breakout star of the New Church.
I will say that Bella Donna finally seems to be getting the hang of being a valet and getting her timing right, which is nice to see. She doesn’t seem to be very evil, compared with other members of the Church, more like a lost soul that’s being exploited by Mitchell. In the end, Storm would get the win, with an assist from Harris and the Death Sentence, when the New Church’s antics backfired on them. So James Mitchell will face America’s Most Wanted in a bullrope match.
Tenay and West go over the rules of the Bullrope match: Storm, Harris, and Mitchell will be joined at the wrist and there will be a STEEL cowbell in this somewhere.
In the locker room, Bob Armstrong is trying fire up Jeff Jarrett and Ron Killings, but Jarrett still isn’t saying anything. Jarrett still hasn’t responded to anyone’s question about his loyalty, though Killings getting in his face probably didn’t help.
Double Elimination Match: EZ Money vs Kid Kash vs AJ Styles vs Joel Maximo: Styles is determined to get back to the title match, because he takes out Joel Maximo before the match officially starts. The match pretty good. It had it’s slow spots, but Styles and Kash were easily the highlights of the match. However, to everyone’s surprise, EZ Money pulled out the win with a pin on Joel Maximo, with an assist from AJ Styles.
We get word through Tenay that Jarrett and Killings WILL team up against the Harris Twins later in the show.
Backstage, Goldy is with Sonny Siaki and she’s not happy about it. Siaki is looking like LL Cool J. Goldy tries to be a good sport and wishes Siaki luck, despite the fact that she looked like she wanted to gag rather than say anything nice to him.
Siaki seems to have dropped the speaking in the third person thing, thank heavens. He doesn’t need Goldy’s well-wishes, he’s waited a long time for this match and it doesn’t really matter when his match with Lynn happens because he’s going to walk away with the gold. I applaud them for letting Siaki try and be himself, but it seems a little too late.
Tenay introduces Jerry Lynn, who explains that he’s got a partially torn pectoral muscle, but he WILL be competing next week against Sonny Siaki. The segment is interrupted by the Harris twins bringing out a table and putting Bill Behrens, the boring as beige NWA official, on it. Lynn tries to save Behrens’ bacon, but ends up being powerbombed THROUGH Behrens and the table. Ron Killings runs out to make the save, but suffers a pretty nasty beat down for his troubles.
Backstage, Goldy finds Bob Armstrong and BG James. Armstrong is pleading with James to put aside his issues with Jarrett and team up to face the Harris twins. James finally agrees and addresses Armstrong as ‘Dad’ for the first time since he’s appeared on TNA.
Bullrope Match – AMW vs Bella Donna: James Mitchell comes out and claims that he can’t compete because he has double pneumonia, though that claim falls a little flat all things considered. He then offers up Bella Donna instead, which AMW are less than impressed with.
Unfortunately, Slash and Lee get the jump on AMW, softening them up for Mitchell to get in some eye gouges and shots with the cowbell. Mitchell then offers to let Bella Donna finish things up, but AMW pull her off the top rope in a spot that looked really awful for Bella’s knee, and set her up for the Catatonic and Eight Second Ride. Still not satisfied, but not wanting to take their frustrations out on the helpless Bella Donna, AMW leave her in the ring and go after Mitchell, who runs for his life.
Tenay shows us a pre-show interview he did with Curt Hennig, who still seems to believe that it’s 1991 and he’s still the best wrestler in the world. In his mind, he’s the better option to carry TNA than Jeff Jarrett, who has nearly broken his back trying to carry Hennig on several occasions. As for Russo, Hennig says that Russo gave him a chance in WCW, but put the belt on David Arquette, which is all that needs to be said to explain why Vince Russo should never be allowed around professional wrestling. Hennig is still bragging about taking down Lesnar, but that still hasn’t been confirmed by any reliable, or sober, witness.
In present time, BG James is found out cold under some metal chairs. Looks like Jarrett’s going to have to deal with the Harrises and Russo on his own.
Harris Brothers vs BG James and Jeff Jarrett: Remember Bash at the Beach 1996 when there was genuine interest and suspense about the NWO and the third man? Remember the shock when it turned out that Hulk Hogan, still one of the biggest stars in wrestling, had turned on the fans?
This was not that match. Jarrett did a good job, but the Harris twins were a load to carry on his own. Ron Killings, limping, and with taped ribs, came to the rescue, letting Jarrett beat the Harrises with a Stroke.
However, the real shock came AFTER the match. Ron Killings still wanted Russo, but suffered another severe beatdown as Russo came in from the crowd. BG James came from the back an appeared to be helping Killings, just before he laid him out with a chairshot, to the crowd’s fury. Then, just to add surrealism to this mess, Percy Pringle, aka, Paul Bearer is on the ramp as Russo, James, and the Harrises celebrate and that’s where the show ends.
Overall Comments: I don’t have much to say about this show other than there were okay matches and an awful story. I didn’t watch much of WCW as a kid, so I didn’t see the real affects of Vince Russo’s ‘writing’ until later and it’s easy to see why his ideas took off in the Attitude Era because he gave the mostly male wrestling demographic what they wanted.
However, watching it back now, and I’ve said this before: It is clear that Russo has a serious problem with women and takes any opportunity to try and humiliate and degrade them and the fact that many people still wish Russo was writing for WWE shows that people either don’t remember how badly the women were treated or they don’t care.
I will say that I was happy to hear the Nashville crowd letting Russo know what they thought of him and it wasn’t friendly.
The whole plotline about Jarrett’s loyalties was so blatantly ripped off from the original NWO storyline, I’m surprised Vince didn’t sue, plus it was just awful. What made the NWO work were the original three guys involved. It’s another example of Russo thinking you can just plug anyone into a storyline or a character type and it’ll work and the audience will buy it, not thinking that 1. The NWO storyline, with all the twists and turns, only ended a couple of years before and fans remember it very vividly. And 2. All three guys were top stars in their primes. BG James and the Harris Twins were past their primes, and Paul Bearer’s glory days of being a manager were largely behind him, not a great formula for rebooting the NWO.
The Piper thing was another storyline from the NWO years, but it was in awful taste and not a great showing for Piper, who came across as an angry drunk using the death of a friend to sell a book.
I didn’t enjoy this episode and I hope this isn’t the precursor to worse things down the road.
Chairshot Classics: WWF Royal Rumble ’88
Our road to the 2019 Royal Rumble begins with a look back at the inaugural event!
This was originally not a PPV, but actually a special which aired on the USA Network. It would however, create the 3rd in WWF’s ‘Big 4’ PPV’s and become the annual January tradition that a lot of fans look forward to even more so than WrestleMania. A little known fact is that in late 1987, WWF experimented with the Royal Rumble idea, holding one in St. Louis, Missouri that saw One Man Gang victorious. This is never referred to though, as WWF considers this the first for historical purposes. It’s every man for himself and luck of the draw, let’s get to the action!
Open: Photos featuring all the matchups for tonights event are shown, as Vince McMahon runs down the card that includes the contract signing for the biggest rematch in WWF history between Hulk Hogan & Andre The Giant. In the arena are Vince & Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura, there’s no time to waste and we go right to the ring and Howard Finkel.
Match #1: ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude vs. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat
They tie-up and Rude doesn’t hesitate to throw hands, Steamboat fires back with chops and Rude goes to the eyes. He tries to throw Ricky over the top, Steamboat hangs on, skinning the cat back inside and tossing Rude out to the floor. The Ravishing One collects himself, telling the ref Steamboat grabbed the tights back inside. Rude wants a test of strength, stops to have a conversation with the fans at ringside and then they lock hands. Rude gets wrist control, driving The Dragon to his knees. Steamboat to his feet, gets out, taking Rude down with a top wristlock and going into an armbar. The Dragon works over the arm, wrenching at the joint and putting Rude to the canvas.
Rude breaks it with a right hand, into the ropes, Steamboat slides through the legs and gets an armdrag, going back into the armbar. Steamboat relentless on the shoulder joint, Rude with forearms and Ricky fires back with chops. Into the ropes, back and forth and Steamboat with another chop, gaining control over Rude’s arm once more. Rude gets to a vertical base, breaking the hold with boots and right hands. Whips The Dragon in and lands a back elbow, finally getting something going. The Ravishing One smashing Steamboat’s head into the turnbuckles, Rude continuing to hammer away.
In the ropes again, Ricky slides through Rude’s legs and hits another armdrag, grabbing an armbar and driving his knee into the shoulder. Rude gets to his feet, sending Steamboat into the ropes and driving an elbow into the chin. More heavy shots from Rude, Steamboat fires back, into the ropes, Rude reverses and drives a knee to the midsection. Steamboat falls out to the floor, Rude giving chase and driving his back into the apron, then slamming Ricky on the floor. Rude drags The Dragon to the apron, bringing him in the hard way with a vertical suplex for a count of 2, then locks in a variation of a Camel Clutch.
The Dragon attempts getting up, but Rude jumps down on the back numberous times. Steamboat gets up again, this time lifting Rude on his shoulders and then dropping him to the mat. Ricky to his feet first, goes for a splash, but Rude gets the knees up, following with an atomic drop for a 2 count. Rude goes back to the Camel Clutch, Steamboat propels him into the corner and then drives his head into the top turnbuckle. The Dragon with a snapmare and a falling chop for 2, Rude goes to the midsection and gets a side headlock takedown, they float over into a bridge and Ricky gains a backslide for a near fall.
He ducks a right, grabs a roll-up for another. Both guys go back and forth with small packages for 2 counts, Rude flooring Ricky with a clothesline for another. Rude attempts a vertical suplex, Steamboat blocks and hits one of his own, then climbs up top. The Dragon jumps off with a crossbody, Rude pulling the referee in front of him and Steamboat takes him out. Rude gets Steamboat up in a Rack, the ref gets to his feet and calls for the bell.
Winner: ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude (Rack)
- After The Bell: Finkel announces that the winner is by disqualification and it’s Ricky Steamboat. Rude hits the ring again after a premature celebration and berates the ref.
Winner: Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat (Disqualification)
- EA’s Take: Two great workers here, but definitely not as quality of a match as you’d expect. Lots of rest holds and the pace didn’t pick up until the last 15-20 seconds of the match. Rick Rude is easily one of the most underrated WWF Superstars of all-time, after arriving from the NWA in the summer of 1987. No real feud between these two here, as they had limited interactions. Steamboat was one of the company’s hottest babyfaces after his WrestleMania III bout with Randy Savage, but a few weeks after Steamboat asked for time off to be with his wife, who was expecting the birth of their first child. It didn’t sit well with management, as a lot of time had been put into grooming Ricky to be a top babyface. When he would return in late 1987, he was not pushed or really put into any meaningful storylines.
In The Arena: ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund is with Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura. Tonight, Canadian strongman Dino Bravo will attempt to break the world benchpress record of 705 lbs. They introduce Dino Bravo along with his manager Frenchy Martin. Dino calls it a big challenge, but he feels up to the task. Frenchy says something in French, of course. Ventura goes over some of the technicalities, as Dino goes for a warmup rep at 415 lbs. Dino stops and says it requires total concentration, asking the crowd to be silent. Using Ventura as his spotter, Bravo lifts it and reps it with no problems. They rip through 505, 555, 595 and 655. The crowd keeps making noise and Bravo feigns leaving with 715 lbs. Dino comes back and attempts it, Ventura helps Bravo get it up and they proclaim it legit.
- EA’s Take: I know they were trying to gain heat for the newly repackaged Dino Bravo, but this was just brutally long. The fans were clapping in support of him breaking the record, until he walked off. Dino would return to singles competition when his alliance with Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine as The Dream Team was phased out, joining up with his new manager Frenchy Martin as the French-Canadian Strongman.
Match #2 for the WWF Women’s Tag Team Championships 2/3 Falls: WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions The Glamour Girls (Judy Martin & Leilani Kai) w/’Mouth Of The South’ Jimmy Hart vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Toteno & Itsuki Yamazaki)
The bell rings and The Angels hit the The Glamour Girls with dropkicks. Noriyo & Leilani are left in the ring, Noriyo missing another dropkick as Leilani hangs onto the ropes. Leilani tosses her across the ring by the hair and then drives her into Martin’s knee before she tags in. Martin with a slam, covering and Noriyo bridges out, grabbing a roll-up for 2. Itsuki tags, sends Martin into the ropes and hits a rolling headbutt, followed by a piledriver. Noriyo back in, she gets taken to the ground, but grabs a body scissors.
Martin fights out of it, Noriyo attempts a crossbody and gets caught, then dropped to the canvas. Martin misses an elbow drop, then quickly crawls over and tags Leilani. She enters and takes a knee out of the ropes, Itsuki back in with a flying forearm and a dropkick. The Angels strike back and forth in the corner, Itsuki covering a count of 2, then lock in an octopus stretch. Martin comes in the ring to try and break it, but kicks her own partner. Noriyo back in to deliver a dropkick to Martin, then we get synchronized figure four’s from The Angels. The legal participants are left in the ring, Itsuki breaks the hold and wishbones Leilani’s legs, then tags Noriyo. She comes in and cross the legs, grabbing a modified surfboard.
Itsuki back in, she continues to work the leg, Martin comes in to help her partner and they pull on Leilani by her hands and legs. Martin is dropped to the mat and rolls outside going back to the apron, Leilani crawls to try and tag, finally making it. Martin fires a kick to the midsection, whips Noriyo into the corner and she hops on the turnbuckle, putting the boots up to a charging Martin. Judy catches the feet, pulling Noriyo off the turnbuckle and slamming her to the mat. She delivers a shot to Itsuki on the apron, whips Noriyo into the ropes and Leilani with a cheap shot from the apron. Martin plants Itsuki with a reverse powerbomb, covers and gets the first fall.
First Fall: The Glamour Girls
Martin tosses Itsuki by the hair, putting her in the wrong part of town, then whips her into the ropes for a flying forearm and a count of 1. She slams Itsuki, attempts a splash and misses, allowing Noriyo to tag in and hit a dropkick. Into the ropes, Noriyo with a jumping clothesling, heads to the 2nd rope and connects with another for a near fall. She hits the ropes, landinga crossbody for another 2, then tags Itsuki for a double team suplex. Martin enters the ring to break it up, but gets caught and The Angels attempt to whips The Glamour Girls into one another. The Angels stop short, Glamour Girls charging with clotheslines and end up hitting one another. Order is restored and Leilani flattens Itsuki, lifts her to her shoulder, Itsuki rolls through into a pin and picks up a 3 count.
Second Fall: The Jumping Bomb Angels
The Angels rush Leilani and deliver double knees, then a double clothesline before the ring clears to a one on one situation. Itsuki with a running knee, but Leilani uses her size to force Itsuki into her corner and Martin makes a tag. Into the ropes, Martin catches a kick attempt, Itsuki countering with an enzuigiri and Noriyo enters. Noriyo attempts a fisherman suplex, Martin counters and drives a knee to the midsection, then whips Noriyo hard into the corner. Martin charges, Noriyo hops up and over, grabbing a backslide, but Martin rolls through. Judy grabs the legs, catapulting Noriyo into her corner and tagging out.
Leilani wrenches the neck, then stomps away at Noriyo and hangs her across the top rope by the hair. Double underhook suplex plants Noriyo and Leilani gets a count of 2. Leilani maintains the advantage, Martin in off the tag with a big boot that sends Noriyo into a tag. Itsuki comes in and is immediately tossed across the ring by the hair, then distracts the ref for Leilani to get in an illegal choke. Leilani makes a cover for multiple 1 counts, sends Itsuki in for a double axe handle and it’s blocked. She drops Leilani keyster first on the canvas a couple times and gets a 2 count. She tosses Leilani into her own corner, then brings Martin in the hard way and tags Noriyo.
She climbs upstairs, Itsuki with a slam and Noriyo follows off the top with a knee drop for 2. Noriyo hits a double underhook suplex into a bridge, gaining another 2 count, then brings Itsuki back in for a crossbody and another 2. Martin is slammed to the mat, Itsuki comes off the 2nd rope with a senton and misses, Martin covering and only getting 2. Itsuki with a leg takedown, Noriyo with the tag and a 2nd rope clothesline, but Leilani breaks up the pinfall. The ref’s tied up with Leilani, The Angels climb opposing turnbuckles and hit a tandem dropkick for the 1-2-3.
Winners and NEW WWF Women’s Tag Team Champions: The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo/Tandem Top Rope Dropkick)
- EA’s Take: The crowd was quite into this contest and a lot of the style of The Angels is ahead of it’s time, however the pacing of the contest was a bit too hectic at times. Women’s wrestling isn’t quite as clean and smooth as the men at this point, it would take a number of years for it to get to that point. The WWF Women’s Tag Team Titles are a forgotten relic in the annals of WWE history and this is the last major appearance they’d ever see. The Glamour Girls would go on to regain the championships in June before the titles were dropped completely in early 1989.
Video: Footage from WrestleMania III is shown, when Andre The Giant took on Hulk Hogan for the WWF Heavyweight Championship. At one point, Hogan attempted to slam Andre, but The Giant’s weight came crashing down onto the champion for what some claim was a 3 count. ‘The Million Dollar Man’ has plans to buy the championship, but Hulk Hogan refused to sell it. DiBiase promises to get what he wants, no matter the cost. Andre would accept DiBiase’s offer, attacking the champion on Saturday Night’s Main Event. The Giant has agreed to hand the title over.
In The Ring: It’s time for the contract signing for the biggest rematch in history, as Andre The Giant along with ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase & Virgil make their way to the ring. ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund will oversee the proceedings and he introduces WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, then WWF President Jack Tunney.Tunney & Hogan sit down at the table, but Andre refuses as Gene urges him to sign the contract. DiBiase gives Andre a few words and he slowly makes his way to the table, staring down the champion. The Giant finally takes a seat, then DiBiase takes the mic and begs Hogan to sign. Hulk appears to be having doubts, but then signs after some more prodding by The Million Dollar Man. Andre reviews the contract and Hulk grows impatient. The Giant finally puts his name on the dotted line and DiBiase tells him to put his ‘stamp of approval on it’. Hogan lunges at DiBiase and Andre grabs the champion, slamming his head into the table.
- EA’s Take: This segment is a stark contrast to the one earlier tonight. Yes, it was also long, but that was supposed to be the effect and it worked perfectly. Even almost 30 years later, you could feel the tension as Hogan’s blood boiled at Andre toying around with him. DiBiase was the perfect foil to add a new layer to the Hulk/Andre rivalry, giving it new life with the ‘purchasing of the title’ story. This contract was signed for a match to come on Saturday Night’s Main Event and would lead to the biggest moment in the shows history.