October 8, 2009
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero

In Your House: Canadian Stampede
July 6, 1997
Saddledome
Calgary, Alberta
Attendance: 12,151
Buy Rate: .59
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

FREE FOR ALL:

The Godwinns defeat The Blackjacks (5:32)

Fun Fact: This is the WWF’s final 2-hour PPV. Starting with Ground Zero in September, every monthly show becomes 3 hours.

Fun Fact II: If you look closely, it does seem Vince McMahon is wearing the exact same cowboy outfit that he wore in San Antonio at the 1994 Survivor Series. He wore a tuxedo at the Royal Rumble in January at the Alamodome.

Fun Fact III: The show being in Calgary made the announcing mood strange, because Jerry Lawler had to act heel to the fans and to Bret Hart, even though he had been supporting Bret on TV since the Hitman’s heel turn. During the brawl after the main event ended, Lawler went back to supporting the Harts, even though during the match he made his usual old jokes to Stu and Helen.

ACTUAL SHOW:

1) Mankind (Mick Foley) and Hunter Hearst-Helmsley (Paul Levesque) wrestle to a double-countout at 13:10

Fun Fact: Backstage at the June 23 Raw, Shawn Michaels walked out on the WWF after a locker room fight with Bret Hart. Shawn refused to work with the Hitman, and would be gone from TV until late July. In all of this turmoil, Steve Austin was now left without a tag team title co-holder. It was decided that a tournament would be held, and the winning tag team would face Austin and a partner of his choice for the straps. Mankind began petitioning Austin to “Pick Me, Steve,” with a great series of promos and vignettes, usually ending with a Stone Cold Stunner and big old NO! We will pick up the rest of the tag title story next month at Summerslam, so stay tuned.

Scott: This special night of wrestling begins with a great brawl in part 2 of the first half of this rivalry. These two have wrestled over different chapters of WWF history. In 2000, they’re Triple H and Cactus Jack. Here, they are the blueblood with attitude, and the babyface freak from the boiler room. This match is much more brutal than their KOTR match, plus twice as much cheating by Chyna. However, the brawl goes all over the arena, and both men are counted out. The battle continues throughout the show, and will be capped off with a memorable match next month. The Calgary crowd is very jacked up for their first PPV, and trust me they aren’t disappointed. Mankind’s support from the fans is getting bigger and bigger, and since hooking up with Chyna, Helmsley has become one of the hottest heels on the roster. This is a hot opener, and it just gets better from here. Grade: 3

Justin: A great nasty brawl to kick off a top-notch show. As Scott mentioned, the crowd is amped up and ready to go and they add a special feel all night long. Helmsley had done everything he could to reach that next level, and the one thing he missing was that one, solid, legitimate feud with a good face to really establish him on that upper-mid card level. Enter the freshly turned Mankind who now had the masses solidly behind him and his freakish ways. It is funny, because Foley would play the same exact role 2.5 years later to help get Hunter over as a Main Eventer (which he did once again) and 7 years later to help establish Randy Orton as a legit heel. There are those that may have their qualms with Foley, but he always did business the right way, and if it weren’t for him, you could argue that Helmsley, Rock and Orton would have had a hard time being legitimized. You could also argue that Undertaker’s career would have been stuck in neutral even longer without Mick to bail him out. Anyway, a great opener between two rising stars, something that Vince was finally doing correctly for the first time in quite a while. Grade: 3

2) The Great Sasuke (Masanori Murakawa) defeats Taka Michinoku (Takao Yoshida) with a Tiger Suplex at 9:59

Scott: This didn’t turn out anywhere near what it was supposed to be. Sasuke was to be the next groomed Light Heavyweight stud from the Rising Sun. Taka was some midcarder Sasuke brought for the match. They put on an excellent 10-minute exhibition of great suplexes and sparkling aerial maneuvers. Sasuke wins the match with a combination of a Thunder Fire Bomb and a Tiger Suplex, but the real surprise is his opponent. Taka was supposed to be a nothing jobber for the highly sought-after Sasuke. Instead Sasuke stays in Japan, and by the end of the year Michinoku would be the first WWF Light-Heavyweight champion in many years. He would provide a good portion of the offense and have many near falls. This certainly beats the fat, slow, midgets from AAA that Vince scraped up at the end of 1996. For all the garbage thrown at us in June at King of the Ring, this show is lining up to be a very special one. Grade: 3.5

Justin: An excellent match here, as Vince imported some real light heavyweights (not the jokes from AAA he toted out at the end of 1996) to whet the palette of the fans as he was in the planning stages of his own Cruiserweight division. Sasuke was supposed to be the centerpiece, but Taka stole the show here and the following night on Raw when they had a rematch, which Sasuke won as well and ended up with the contract. Check this out and see some revolutionary action for the WWF in 1997. Grade: 3.5

3) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Vader (Leon White) to retain WWF World Title with a Tombstone at 12:37

Fun Fact: The week after King of the Ring, Faarooq cleaned house and kicked Crush, Savio, Clearance Mason and the rest of Nation cronies to the curb, keeping only D-Lo Brown as his loyal soldier. Faarooq announced that two new Nation members would be announced at the end of the night as the Main Event was Faarooq and a mystery partner against Taker and Ahmed…who, if you remember hadn’t been getting along very well as of late. Well, Faarooq’s mystery partner was the returning Kama (formerly Papa Shango from 1992 and Kama, the Supreme Fighting Machine from 1995), who was now known as Kama Bin Mustafa. Halfway through the match, Ahmed turned on Taker and joined the Nation, finally legitimizing the faction as a solid group of ass kickers. Ahmed was supposed to fight Taker here, but was injured in the first “Gang Warz” fight that broke out on Raw between the Nation, the Disciples of Apocalypse (Crush’s new faction) and Los Boricuas (Savio’s new faction).

Fun Fact II: Tired of being blackmailed, Taker finally fired Bearer as his manager with a nice resounding Chokeslam. Paul Bearer came out the next week and spilled the beans that Taker killed his parents and his brother Kane in a fire at the family funeral home. Taker told the story that it was Kane who set the fire, and that he was guilty of not stopping it. Taker came to the ring and attacked Bearer, but Paul blurted out that Kane was still alive. We will leave it at that for now, with more to come next month.

Scott: Considering this was supposed to be Undertaker vs. Ahmed Johnson, it was actually very good. This was the re-match from Royal Rumble, and it was better than before. Paul Bearer seconds the Mastodon, and keeps screaming “MURDERER”, in reference to his “brother”. That storyline continues to take shape, but no one at the moment knows what the fuck Bearer’s talking about. A great spot in this match comes when Taker actually chokeslams Vader……off the second rope! The overall brawl is solid and Vader hadn’t been that motivated in a match since the Final Four brawl in February. The crowd is off the hook for this match, which is amazing considering they know what’s to follow. Then there is poor Ahmed. This was supposed to be his heel “coming out party”. However, his jacked-up body again betrays him. He tears his knee in the first “Gang Warz” brawl, and is on the shelf again. His usefulness is getting smaller and smaller. Boy, last year’s KOTR win over Goldust seems like 10 years ago. As for Taker, this title reign is solid, even though it’s had to share the main event spotlight. Another great match, and now we’re ready for the main event of main events. Grade: 3

Justin: A really good match here and Taker’s 3rd good defense in 4 shows, continuing a good, but often overshadowed title reign. As Scott mentioned, Paul Bearer is flanking Vader and keeps calling Taker a murderer throughout the match. This battle is much better than their Rumble encounter, as these two work super-stiff and mix in some sweet power moves, capped off by the Second Rope Chokeslam. This was a good showing by Vader in his final PPV as a heel and another solid win for the Dead Man, who was a nice steady locker room presence at a time when one was desperately needed. Grade: 3

4) The Hart Foundation defeats Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, & the Legion of Doom when Owen Hart pins Steve Austin (Williams) with a roll-up at 24:43

Fun Fact: Owen Hart debuts his short, flat-top haircut at this show, and he would keep that hairstyle for the rest of his career.

Fun Fact II: Jim Ross mentions for the first time that there were cameras around ringside filming a documentary about Bret Hart.

Scott: The unbelievable main event begins with the very partisan introductions. Other than Austin, the American team got mostly boos, but some cheers. Austin however got no love from the Calgary crowd. I haven’t heard heel heat this hot since Andre the Giant ripped Hogan’s cross off on Piper’s Pit to set up Wrestlemania III. The Calgary crowd is salivating, awaiting the chance for Stone Cold to get his. Even though Austin is a full-fledged face, he absolutely loves this right now. The rest of his team has some connection to the rest of the Hart family. We then have the introduction of Calgary’s first family. Shit, Canada’s first family. One by one, they are announced…Pillman, Neidhart, Bulldog, Owen, and finally, Bret. The place is out of their skin when he comes out. The match is outstanding, with a combination of great grappling and unbelievable psychology. Austin is rabid, attacking all members of the HF, even jumping the guardrail and attacking Hart Family members, including Stu himself! Oh man, this was off the hook. At one point, both Austin and Owen are “injured” at separate times, and have to leave the match, but they return. After Owen rolls up Stone Cold for the pin, there’s the grand finale to the show. As the entire Hart Family is in the ring celebrating the victory, Austin comes in the ring with a steel chair. He proceeds to get the absolute shit beat out of him by all the family members in the ring. Finally, after a couple of minutes of beatings, Austin is carted off by the security in cuffs, flipping off the Calgary crowd as he leaves. That was 30 unbelievable minutes of wrestling, psychology, and television. It would also be the final crowning moment in the WWF for Bret Hart. He’d never get it this good again, even though he would add another line to his resume next month. It’s also unfortunate that watching this again, it’s sad that 3/5 of the winning tag team (Pillman, Owen and Bulldog) are no longer with us. This was a perfect match that ends a gem of a show. Grade: 5

Justin: Scott said it all, so I haven’t much to add. It was just a great, epic battle with beautiful storytelling and psychology. The crowd was rabid for their team, and the wrestlers ate it up. I dare you to ever find a better 10-man tag match, because there isn’t one. Everything clicked, with LOD having their best match since returning, Goldust getting off his boring-stale slide and Shamrock making great strides as a wrestler. It is also great to see Pillman on PPV and he looks like he is having the time of his life out there. This may not be a perfect match from a pure wrestling standpoint, but from crowd manipulation and downright fun, it is hard to be topped. Just an awesome, awesome lesson in wrestling psychology and how to build a match and keep the crowd hooked. Go Watch This! Grade: 5

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Scott: This is one of the first signs that Vince McMahon was snapping out of his “slump”, and is ready to kick ass and take names again. Sure, WCW is still #1, but instead of losing the ratings by margins of 4.2 to 3.1, it’s now more like 3.8 to 3.5. RAW is beginning to catch up to Nitro, and the fans are slowly starting to believe in the product again. This show was complete: Great matches, great storylines, and compelling psychology. 1995 was full of characters. 1997 is full of people and emotions. This show deserves what it’s about to get, and if it had a Wrestlemania-type hype and stature, it could be one of the 3 greatest PPVs of all time. As it stands, it’s definitely in the top 10. Final Grade: A+

Justin: An awesome, awesome show. There were only 4 matches, but all four completely rocked and provided a shot in the arm for the WWF after the KOTR debacle. Vince finally was cooking with some serious gas and things were looking up. This would turn out to be the high point of the year, as injuries and backstage turmoil would almost drive Vince out of business by the end of 1997. But, for now, ride high and enjoy the best PPV in a long, long time. It was a show that featured only four matches, but all four ranged from very good to awesome giving the show a tremendous average grade. Add in the mega hot crowd and you got yourself a winner. Final Grade: A+

MVP: Main Event
Runner-Up: The Crowd
Non-MVP: Ahmed Johnson
Runner-Up: Shawn Michaels (For not being a part of it)

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