January 11, 2010
In Your House: Canadian Stampede, July 6, 1997, Canadian Airlines Saddledome, Calgary, AB
Announcers: Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, & Jerry Lawler
In honour of Bret Hartís return to WWE television last week, hereís a look back at one of the most triumphant moments of his career. In the midst of the Hart Foundation/Steve Austin and Canada /USA feuds, the WWF brought a PPV to the Hartsí hometown of Calgary, Alberta. Bret rallied the entire Foundation and challenged any five American wrestlers to come into town and face them here tonight, with the call of course being answered by Steve Austin, as well as Goldust, Ken Shamrock, and the Legion of Doom, so thatís our main event tonight. This is one of the old two hour In Your House shows (the final one, actually), so besides that, thereís only three other matches, which is low even by two hour show standards, but if nothing else it means that everyone should get the time they need to shine. Incidentally, the timing of this show, during the first week of July, and coinciding with the Calgary Stampede, is actually a throwback to the old days of Stampede Wrestling which would always hold their biggest show of the year during this week.
Opening Match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Chyna) vs. Mankind
Last month at King of the Ring, HHH won the tournament by defeating Mankind in the finals, with help from Chyna of course. On Raw the next night, Mankind demanded a rematch, and was again beaten down to kick this into a full fledged feud, so here we have them going at it tonight. A Slugfest breaks out right away with Mankind winning. He then gets a bulldog, followed by a slam and legdrop. After a double arm DDT, he mocks HHHís bow which is kind of funny as he does it so horribly. He puts his head down on an Irish whip and takes a facebuster, but then when HHH charges at him, Mankind backdrops him to the floor. He then drops an elbow from the apron and gets HHH back in for 2. Corner whip sees HHH do a flip over and back out to the floor. Mankind teases a dive from the 2nd rope to the floor, but HHH escapes up the aisle. Mankind chases him down with a clothesline and a suplex on the ramp. Back in the ring, HHH tries to come in with a sunset flip, but Mankind gets the Mandible Claw on. Chyna nails him for the break, which ends up being really stupid as the ref, whoís right there of course, has to act like he has no idea what just happened. So Mankind starts stalking Chyna, with HHH trying to come from behind, but Mankind nails him. He goes to whip HHH to the steps, but itís reversed, and with some help from Chyna, Mankindís knee smacks into them. HHH now zeroes in on that knee, nailing it with a chair, and then getting him back in the ring for more work on it. Figure four is hooked, and he uses the ropes for leverage too. After a couple of failures, Mankind finally convinces the ref that there are shenanigans afoot and he breaks the hold. Mankindís corner whip is reversed and he comes out into a Pedigree try. He scoops the legs though with HHH shoving him back to the corner, but he ends up falling forward into the inadvertent headbutt to the groin spot. He pounds HHH down in the corner now, and connects wit the running knee. Another corner whip leads to an HHH flip and he catches himself in the Tree of Woe with Mankind then dropping an elbow. He then gets a piledriver for 2 and takes the action back to the floor with a Cactus Clothesline. He grabs a chair, but Chyna comes from behind. The ref gets her away, but that lets HHH get the chair and get in a shot with it. Now, while the ref reprimands HHH, Chyna nails Mankind with a clothesline. Back in the ring, HHH goes up, but Mankind crotches him. He hooks the Claw again, but Chyna grabs his leg and drags him to the post. Itís out to the floor again where HHH sends him over the rail and into the crowd, where they brawl for the double countout at 13:11. They continue brawling all the way to the back with the officials seemingly unable to get them apart. Itís a crappy finish for sure, but at least we know that it took the next logical step and setup a cage match between them at Summerslam. Up to that point though, it was a pretty good match. ***1/4
Next we get footage of the Hart Foundation taking part in various events surrounding the Calgary Stampede. This then leads to a backstage interview with the group. Steve Austin tries to interrupt, but gets held back. Bret says that they could beat him up five on one, but that would prove nothing, so theyíll wait until later when itís five on five.
Taka Michinoku vs. The Great Sasuke
WCWís cruiserweight division had spent the past year go so getting over pretty well, so by now the WWF felt they needed their own version. Early on here, Sasuke was a guy they had hoped to build around so they brought him over from Japan, and he brought with him as an opponent, Taka Michinoku. Of course what ended up happening was that Sasuke left after only two matches, and Taka ended up being the guy they kept and gave the initial push as the divisionís top babyface. But we didnít know any of that yet, so letís see if Sasuke impresses us. By the way, I donít really watch Japanese wrestling, so if I miss anything like names of moves, or backstory, or whatever, cut me a break. So we get the introductions, but before we start, HHH and Mankind brawl back into the arena. The refs still canít get them apart, but eventually they move back out of sight and this match can get underway. Sasuke starts with come kicks that Taka mostly avoids. They then go into a sequence of trading holds with a couple of nearfalls thrown in. Taka starts working the arm, but Sasuke escapes and hooks a sleeper. Take gets out of that, but runs into a kick. Sasuke goes to a half crab, but Taka makes the ropes. They trade shots until Taka take shim down with a snapmare and hits a couple of seated dropkicks. He charges, but Sasuke backdrops him to the floor, and the Sasuke goes up and dropkicks him on the floor off the top rope which is pretty crazy. Back in, Sasuke connects with some nice kicks to put Taka down. Taka catches another one though and gets a leg whip, followed by a dropkick to the knee. Sasuke goes to the floor, so Taka follows with a springboard plancha. He then tries to suplex Sasuke in, but Sasuke slips out and tries a German suplex, but Taka flips out of that and connects with a rana for 2. He cradles him for another 2, and then comes off the ropes, but runs into a handspring elbow. This knocks Taka to the floor, so Sasuke follows with an Asai moonsault. Back in the ring, Taka ducks off a whip and connects with a belly to belly suplex for 2. A springboard dropkick sets up the Michinoku Driver, which he hits, but Sasuke kicks out at 2. Taka goes up, but Sasuke gets him with a dropkick coming down. Another Asai moonsault, in the ring this time gets 2. He then uses the Thunder Fire Bomb and a Tiger Suplex to get the 3 count at 10:01. Good stuff here, but itís too bad that they had no interest in really doing the light heavyweight division. ***1/2
Meanwhile, the HHH/Mankind brawl has now made its way outside the arena. HHH is busted open here for some reason. They continue going at it all around the equipment outside until it appears they are finally separated for good.
WWF Championship Match: The Undertaker vs. Vader (w/Paul Bearer)
This was originally supposed to be a freshly heel turned Ahmed Johnson challenging Undertaker here, but he quickly ended up on the shelf as usual so Vader gets tapped as a substitute. Vader and Taker did at least have some history as Vader had pinned him clean back at the Royal Rumble, and he was managed by Paul Bearer with whom Taker was tied up in the Kane storyline. Taker runs wild on him early on, nailing a clothesline and dropping a leg for 2. Splash in the corner gets another 2, and then he hits the ropewalk for 2 again. After a corner whip, Vader comes out with a bodyblock and takes over for a bit. But then an Irish whip sees Taker duck and come back off with a flying clothesline for 2. Vader comes back with a shoulderblock, but when he comes off again he runs into a big boot. Another boot puts Vader on the floor. Whip to the steps is reversed and Taker hits them. Paul Bearer takes a few shots at Taker, screaming about him being a murderer all the while as Bearer had just revealed that part of the story recently. On the way back in, Taker pulls Vader down on the ropes, then goes up and nails a flying clothesline for 2. Now he goes for Bearer, but Vader makes the save from behind with a clothesline. Bearer gets a couple more shots in with his shoe before Vader gets him back in the ring. There he hits a short clothesline and then a 2nd rope clothesline for 2. Suplex and a splash get another 2. He continues working over Taker for a bit. Taker fires back and sets up a chokeslam, but Vader kicks him low to counter it. Vader then charges at him, with Taker picking him up for the Tombstone, but they end up going down in a heap. It looks like they may have been trying the deal where Vader would flip around to reverse it, but itís not really clear. Taker covers for the mess by covering for 2. Vader then gets the elbow up on a corner whip and hits a bodyblock. He sets up the Vader Bomb, but Taker sits up and chokeslams him off the 2nd rope for 2. Another chokeslam gets another 2 count, and then the Tombstone finishes at 12:40. So far we have three matches, all of which have been really good, and in really different styles too. ***
Now we get an interview with Team USA. Steve Austin looks really out of place standing here with a bunch of allies. Everyone gives their comments, but when itís Austinís turn, he just walks off. After that, O Canada is sung, and Stu and Helen Hart are introduced as being at ringside along with the rest of the family.
Main Event: Goldust, Ken Shamrock, The Legion of Doom, & Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Brian Pillman, Jim Neidhart, The British Bulldog, Owen Hart, & Bret ďHitmanĒ Hart
There was really no special setup for this match. The Harts simply challenged any five American wrestlers to come here tonight and face them. Austin gets some great heel heat on his entrance, but the fans donít seem to have too much of an issue with the rest. Then The Hart Foundation comes out, one at a time, with each entrance getting bigger and bigger until they practically blow the roof off the place for Bret. Easily one of the biggest entrance pops in the history of wrestling. JR makes mention of a documentary crew following Bret around here today. They are of course filming for what became Wrestling With Shadows. Everybody stares each other down and then clears out so that Bret and Austin can start things off. And they do with a slugfest, won by Bret, who then stomps Austin down in the corner. Austin rakes the eyes and hits a corner whip, but Bret is back out with a clothesline. He then gets an inverted atomic drop and another clothesline. Austin goes to the eyes again an hooks the Million Dollar Dream. Bret kicks off the corner a la Survivor Series 1996, but Austin kicks out at 2. He then chokes Bret on the ropes, but misses a rope straddle. Tag Anvil, who ends up taking the Thesz press from Austin before he tags out to Shamrock. Shamrock goes for the ankle lock pretty quickly, but Pillman breaks that up fast. Pillman then gets the tag, rakes Shamrockís eyes and bites him, and the crowd loves it. McMahon is aghast that that the Harts can do no wrong here tonight. Backbreaker gets 2 before Shamrock comes back with a clothesline and belly to belly suplex. Tags to Owen and Goldust. Owen is sent o the corner and backdropped, but he comes back with the ensiguiri for 2. Tag to Hawk, who gets a gutwrench suplex and legdrop for 2. He then slams Owen and connects with a top rope splash for another 2. Dropkick misses and sets up a Sharpshooter try, but Animal breaks it up. Tag to Bulldog, who hits the delayed suplex for 2, and then the running powerslam for another 2 as Goldust makes the save. Tags are made now to Bret and Animal. Bret is sent to the corner, but gets the boot up and comes out with a clothesline. Tag to Goldust and he and Bret do a test of strength, but Bret just kicks him and the crowd loves it. He sets Goldust in the Tree of Woe in the Harts corner and they beat the hell out of him there for awhile. Tag to Owen, who gets a backbreaker, but misses a charge in the corner and allows a tag to Animal. Owe does get him with a spinkick and then a missile dropkick off the top. He tries a rana, but gets dropped with a powerbomb. Animal then hits the powerslam and tags Hawk for the Doomsday Device. They hit it, but Anvil makes the save at 2. This triggers a ten way brawl, during which Austin posts Owenís leg and beats it with a chair. Bret makes the save and they manage to get Owen back to the corner where he tags Anvil, but the damage has been done and he is taken to the back, seemingly out of the match. Austin is in now for his team, but he gets bulled to the corner by Anvil. Still he manages to fight everyone off, and then he gets Pillman in the ring and delivers a Stunner. Bret wants revenge for Owen though, so he takes advantage now to grab Austinís leg and send it to the post. He then beats on it with a fire extinguisher for a bit and applies the ringpost figure four until Hawk finally makes the save. Austin then gets over and tags Hawk, but now he also has to be taken to the back which leaves the match four on four. Meanwhile, Animal wins a test of strength with Anvil, but Anvil maneuvers him to the corner where he makes the tag to Bret. They team up for a Demolition Decapitation, which gets 2. Bret puts his head down on a hip though and gets kicked. Tag to Shamrock, but Pillman comes in and hits him with a clothesline. Corner whip by Bret is reversed and he hits chest first. Shamrock fails to follow up though and Bret tosses him to the floor. Out there, Pillman sends him to the announce table and it breaks down into an eight way brawl. Hawk gets sent to the steps while Bret gets Shamrock back in the ring and hits a Russian legsweep for 2. Tag to Bulldog, who pounds Shamrock down, but Shamrock comes back with a low blow. Tag to Goldust, who bulldogs the Bulldog and sets up the Curtain Call, but Pillman puts a stop to that. Goldust tries going up, but gets crotched and Bulldog connects with a superplex for 2. Austin makes his way back to ringside, and he immediately wants the tag. He gets it and so does Bret. They slug away, just like they did to start the match, but Austin wins it this time. Bret gets sent to the buckle again, and then takes a suplex for 2. He puts his head down on an Irish whip though and takes a neckbreaker and a backbreaker. Bret then drops the 2nd rope elbow and hooks a sleeper, but Austin jawjacks out of it and covers for 2. Bret avoids him on an Irish whip and hooks the Sharpshooter, but Animal makes the save. Austin then gets his own Sharpshooter on, but Owen runs back out and breaks that up. Owen gets the tag, but puts his head down on a whip and gets kicked and clotheslined to the floor. Austin goes after him out there and sends him to the rail. Bruce Hart throws a drink at him, but Austin doesnít see who it is and ends up taking a shot at Stu. This draws several of the brothers over the rail and in the ensuing melee, Austin gets tossed back in the ring, where he gets rolled up by Owen for the 3 count at 24:32. The brawl continues though until security finally gets in and gets Team USA out of there. The celebration begins, but Austin still wants more and runs back in with a chair only to be beaten down by everyone and then led away in handcuffs. The match itself was pretty great, and the sustained heat for it was unbelievable. Everyone worked hard to turn this into something big, with Austin in particular stoked about the idea of playing the hated heel again, and they pulled it off great. ****1/2
Well, nothing on this show went below ***, so thatís pretty much an automatic Thumbs Up. Of course there are only four matches, but that means no filler and nothing to drag it down. As great as the matches were though, itís a show that really lacks any significance in the grand scheme of things. In a way, itís more like a really great house show that they happened to televise as opposed to a PPV, because it really was tailored to the market it was in as opposed to the general audience. But, that aside, itís still a great show, and worth checking out again.