I've been watching a lot of 1997 WWF lately. The Attitude Era was gestating, but there were still a few residual welts and pockmarks handed down by the New Generation. Creatively speaking, this was a fantastic year, even with the company's identity crisis. The product was somewhere in between juvenile gimmickry (see Dude Love) and scatological ECW mimicry (see Steve "The Sandman" Austin). To be more specific, this PPV took place a mere two months before The Montreal Screwjob. It was the last televised event to utilize the classic WWF ring/rope combo. Man, I miss those ropes.
Oh, and we're in the UK, which means that The British Bulldog is a babyface and he is defending an accessory title in the main event. According to manifold, ratiocinative statistical analysis (that I carefully removed from my asshole), the European Championship became 549% less prestigious after Shawn Michaels bellyached his way to a title reign.
~ The Dude Love/Hunter Hearst Helmsley match is entirely too long, but it's noteworthy for one reason. HHH bends the rules and the referee fucking flips out. I've never seen an official pwn a wrestler like this. He's all, "I'm the ref! You don't tell me what to do!" Trips is all, "Jesus, dude. Calm down!" I'm all, "Woah, that was badass. Show him who's boss, Not Earl Hebner!" I'm sorry; I'm obtuse in the field of referee names.
~ The Headbangers retain the tag team straps against Los Boricuas. How did Savio and Miguel (educated guess...I'm totally blanking on the second member) become the No. #1 Contenders? That didn't deserve to be capitalized. At any rate, this was well-paced and highly entertaining. I can't believe that Mosh and Thrasher are able to collocate such stately pops from foreign marks. Good for them.
~ I will begrudgingly list The Patriot versus Flash Funk as a pro. Why? It's so goddamn surreal. Trial Run Kurt Angle doesn't seem to know how to respond to crowd heat. Patriot, dude...heels aren't supposed to hulk up. We get an athletic back-and-forth, but here again, it drags on past the point of diversion.
~ Ah, have I mentioned that I treasure a stacked tag team division? The Godwinns rassle The Legion of Doom, and I'm the primary beneficiary. The match itself is nothing special. I'm easy to please.
~ Owen Hart serves as the fan favorite in a scrap with Vader. The Rocket was so good at playing the underdog. He is brutalized and dehumanized for twelve minutes, only to stage a dramatic comeback. Of course, it's not enough to topple The Mastodon. Fuck, what a match. It would stand as my favorite on the card, but we also have...
~ Bret Hart versus The Undertaker in a Summerslam rematch. I can't decide which altercation I prefer. The SS bout has a better ending. This bout might have better grappling and psychology, but it's too close to call. Just watch both.
~ For years, I wondered why Tiger Ali Singh never found success in the Federation. Then I saw this match. He faces Leif Garrett (Al Snow), the surviving half of the defunct New Rockers (I'm pretty sure that Marty Jannetty had vamoosed to WCW by this point). Apart from a thimbleful of power moves, Singh was clueless. Amazingly, he trained in a Japanese dojo. How is it that his professional zenith came as the manager of Lo Down? Yikes!
~ I won't mince words. HBK/Bulldog is an anticlimax. Shawn is disinterested, and the finish leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The title shouldn't have changed hands. I don't mean to suggest that Davey Boy was a saint, but that was his night. Plus, the match is simply sloppy, although I'm in the minority. Consider my shoulders shrugged.
By and large, 1997's One Night Only is loads of fun. Check it out. Or Los Boricuas will stare at you.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:59 PM