Previously on the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War: Everything that ever happened before Survivor Series ’97.
If you haven’t seen this pay-per-view and have lived under a rock for the past 20 years, you can watch it on WWE Network here. Check out all the episodes you may have missed at the Best and Worst of WWF Raw Is War and Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw tag pages. Follow along with the competition here.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWF Survivor Series ’97, originally aired on November 9, 1997.
Best: Everything Goes Fine
In this show’s uneventful main event, Bret Hart retains the WWF Championship against Shawn Michaels, and beloved referee who swore on his kids Earl Hebner sends the Montreal crowd home happy with his trademark Spinarooni.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
A Birdman’s Father
I can’t wait to see Bret Hart take on Stone Cold Steve Austin again at this year’s WrestleMania!
Vince McMahon has such a good face, I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to spit in it
a simpsons reference because the show is currently good
a random knob
But a Watchmen reference, also
does anyone else think Road Dog and Billy Gunn make a terrible team that will never go anywhere?
Savio: i’m center, jose you’re left wing
Jose: got it
Savio: miguel, you’re right wing
Savio: jesus, you’re in goal
Jesus: what why
Savio: because jesus saves
DOA power rankings
1. getting punched in the nuts with a semi truck
2. all members of DOA
if anyone from the Nation of Domination will one day be a movie star it’s gotta be Kama Mustafa
my favorite thing about the current WWF product is that there aren’t any evil authority figures, that’s a really dumb thing about WCW, the idea that a guy could be in charge of the company but also want to put that company out of business and make all his employees feel like shit all the time. what a stupid decision
Karate Fighters are actually super fun
Drop down into our comments section to let us know what you thought of the show, which probably wasn’t a lot, and recommend us for Netscape Navigator’s Cool News Site of the Month. See you tomorrow night, when two wrestling shows are on television instead of one really long one!
Sigh, Worst: Somebody Screws Somebody
All right, so maybe you’ve heard of this one.
The quickest way I can describe this to you is that there was a WWF Championship match between two guys who hated each other. One of them, the challenger, was a self-centered super performer at the height of his game and also completely up his own ass who thought of wrestling as a business he could manipulate through a combination of networking, pissing and moaning all the time, and being super good at it. The other, the champion, was also super good at wrestling, but also kinda-sorta thought wrestling was real? He was leaving the company but didn’t want to drop the championship in his home country to a guy he hated. Instead of, I don’t know, making the wrestlers do the wrestling show and stop being weird babies, the owner of the company orchestrated this possibly worked, possibly 100% real and insane web of lies that culminated in an incredible betrayal of a deluded former company man who should’ve “done the right thing” but also shouldn’t have been made to look like a fucking idiot in front of the world. Also the wrestling business probably shouldn’t have been exposed in a pay-per-view main event and compromised to that level, but the company owner turned his awful deed into a wrestling character for himself, because pretending shit’s just wrestling will get you out of ANYTHING. Even murder, sometimes!
If you’d like to know more details or what really happened or what the wrestlers really thought, there are a handful of documentaries and specials about this, from the sublime (Wrestling With Shadows) to those WWE Network retrospectives that don’t really tell you or accomplish anything.
The legacy of the “Montreal Screwjob” is everything that came after it, but the moment itself, out of context, has become pro wrestling’s Zapruder film. Watch it happen on repeat and each time, watch someone else’s face. 20 years later you’re trying to figure out the legitimacy of Shawn’s surprised and angry reaction, or you’re watching Vince’s face after getting the world’s best-aimed loogie in the eye, or you’re noticing Earl Hebner’s nervous dinosaur wrists:
Knowing what we know, or at least what we think we know, it’s pretty insane that someone came to Bret beforehand and was like, “whatever you do don’t get put in a submission,” and they were laying out the match and Shawn said, “you’ll reverse the Sharpshooter,” and Bret was like, “this seems fine.”
All in all, even if nothing that happened was predetermined — even though Vince McMahon cuts a shady promo in the middle of the show where he says he “doesn’t know” who’s going to win — and if ignore all the chem-trail goobers out there who think Bret was sent to WCW to sabotage it from the inside or whatever, the Screwjob has become a story. It’s been worked into and out of real and fake wrestling stories so many times over so many years in so many places, regurgitated so (so so) many times in WWE and talked about on so many platforms in so many places so many times that it’s impossible to really feel anything about it anymore. It’s like watching Braun Strowman get murdered in a garbage truck.
If you need one GIF to sum up the entire event, it’s probably this one:
The crowd is EXTREMELY homophobic on this show, which makes Bret’s talking point about Canada not being “riddled with prejudice” pretty funny. There are at least three variations on “Shawn Is Gay” in this one series of shots, including the big three-part incendiary slur WWF producers specifically cut to and did a dramatic pan of. As a fan going back and watching this in 2017, it kinda makes you want Montreal to get theirs.
Worst: No, Seriously, Everyone In The Crowd Has Sexuality Issues
You don’t remember anything about Survivor Series ’97 besides the Montreal Screwjob because your brain is doing you a favor. This pay-per-view starts with a series of traditional Survivor Series elimination matches, and I can say without hyperbole that the first two are maybe the two worst matches in that style in the history of the event.
The second one, which we’ll talk about first because of that declaration about The Undertaker, features The Truth Commission taking on the Disciples of Apocalypse. That probably made you breathe through your teeth by itself. Notably, Don “The Jackyl” Callis is the only competent wrestler in the entire match, and he’s on commentary. Callis and Lawler could’ve gotten in the ring and given us something at least ten times better than “The Interrogator” pinning a bunch of white supremacists with side slams.
The first match is somehow even worse. It’s The New Age Outlaws and the Godwinns vs. the Headbangers and the New Blackjacks, and opens with the Road Dogg reading the room to refer to the opposing team as, “steers and queers.” WWE closed captioning types “stares and queers,” because that’s probably not a phrase you’re familiar with if you’re an intern in Connecticut in the 21st century. The crowd loves it, though, and remembers to give Billy Gunn a thundering “faggot” chant when he tags in. Really starting to wish this show had ended with Bret and Shawn making out.
Anyway, all you need to know about how horrible this is (aside from the participants) is this GIF of the finish, in which Billy Gunn “hits” a leg drop.
Keep watching, he’s not getting any closer. Psicosis and Bobby Eaton should’ve appeared in the ring like force ghosts and kicked the shit out of him for that.
Updated power rankings:
4. these four tag teams
If that’s not enough for you, don’t worry, the Outlaws return during the Nation of Domination vs. The United Colors of Babyface Benetton to throw powder in Road Warrior Animal’s eyes and get him eliminated. Which is great, because Hawk gets eliminated like 30 seconds into the match with a Rock Bottom. Around this point you should start getting worried for the Legion of Doom, because they’re finally starting to lose that connection to fans, and it’s not long before they’re wearing motorcycle helmets and transitioning into drunken suicide attempt stories. And puking on command!
Best: The Rock Tries Out A New Move
You can’t hear the pre-match promo from Ken Shamrock, Ahmed Johnson and the Warriors Road because the crowd’s too busy obsessively chanting “Rocky sucks.” Really shocked they didn’t throw a “dicks” on the end of that, but yeah, The Rock’s heel turn has finally caught the attention of show crowds, and all he needs to put him over the top is a really annoying signature move that makes you hate his guts.
Maybe something like …
One of my favorite things about any retrospective on The Rock is how they talk about how turning him heel and letting him “be himself turned up to 11” with a live microphone is what saved his career, but they rarely talk about how every single popular thing he did as a babyface started as a way to get him heel heat. The referring to himself in third person thing, the eyebrow, the $500 shirts, the goofy nicknames and childish insults for everything, and this ridiculous fucking elbow drop with theatrics where he bounces off the ropes twice just to stop and pose in place before he drops it.
The difference between heel The Rock and babyface The Rock is irony. Which is why I love the heel, and hate the face. It’s the difference between Birdemic, an awful movie that you love watching because it’s so bad, and Birdemic II, which is in on its own joke. The worst thing that ever happens to popular heels is WWE noticing they’re popular.
Shamrock and The Rock are the final two guys in the ring and manage to salvage what’s an otherwise garbage match with a pretty great one-on-one showdown that would set the tone for their careers going forward. And set up Shamrock for a lot of really unnecessarily brutal chair shots to the face. Rocky never learned how to pull those things.
Worst: Kane Gives Mankind The Red Light Special
♫ all through the night ♫
You know, Kane vs. Mankind might’ve been an okay match and worthy of Mick Foley taking press slams from the top rope to the cement floor or whatever had the entire thing not been performed under Sin Cara lighting. They’ve got Kane’s red entrance light on the entire time so you can’t see anything that’s happening, AND both performers are wearing vision-inhibiting masks. So like, they might as well have handed out 20,000 blindfolds and asked Foley to yell YA-TAH, YA-TAH between pre-taped table breaking sounds.
Pro wrestling can’t seem to figure out that mood lighting doesn’t work, and that part of being able to enjoy a match is, you know, being able to see it. Kane’s lights didn’t work and were quickly abandoned, Glacier’s lights didn’t work and were quickly abandoned, Sin Cara’s lights didn’t work and were quickly abandoned. In a couple of years they’ll try lighting an entire match in green or whatever and then quickly abandon it. Same goes for those giant cages like the Punjabi Prison or that red phonebooth cage from TNA where you’re just staring at bars the entire time, and the only way you can hope to see anything is if they’ve stuck a cameraman inside of it.
Best: The One Pretty Good Match On The Show
Not counting the self-screwage of Bret, because the worst version of Bret vs. Shawn still has to be passably good.
Match of the night goes to Team USA (Vader, Goldust with FU painted on his face, Mildman Marc Mero and Steve By God Blackman) vs. Team Canada (non-Canadian Davey Boy Smith, non-Canadian Jim Neidhart, non-Canadian Doug Furnas and ONTARIO’S OWN Phil Lafon), mostly because slapping the “Canada” label on anything makes 1997 Canadian wrestling fans lose their minds. Except for Eric Shelley, I guess.
It’s pretty by-the-numbers, but “by the numbers” is a godsend on a show full of real-life clandestine betrayals, the 1997 tag team division farting all over itself and a crowd hellbent on outing anything that moves its hips. Bulldog wins by hitting Vader in the back of the head with a ring bell, which to this crowd is an extremely babyface action.
Concluding Our Review, Here’s A Match Featuring A Guy In No Condition To Wrestle Winning A Championship While The Crowd Chants For The Heel To Break The Guy’s Neck
Stone Cold Steve Austin almost got his neck broken a couple of months ago, but he’s suddenly the most popular guy on the roster, and Raw’s ratings are so bad that they needed him on every show doing SOMETHING, even if it was just standing around talking about how he couldn’t wrestle. Then they had him hit a Stone Cold Stunner on everyone, because a guy with a bad neck should be jumping and sitting down on his ass-bone like that every Monday. Now they’ve got him returning to the ring in an Intercontinental Championship match with Owen Hart, and I’ll be honest with you … it’s like they picked him up off the ring at SummerSlam and told him to wrestle five more minutes.
Austin has NO right being out here wrestling pay-per-view matches in the condition he’s in but they’re about to eject Bret Hart into outer space, so again, they need him. So Owen gingerly walks him through the new template for an Austin match — brawling, not a lot of actual wrestling, then kick wham stunner — and jobs to him in about four minutes. There isn’t even a build up to it, Owen just gets stomped a bunch and then eats a stunner. This would’ve been bad for a Raw, and it’s legitimately the third best match on a Survivor Series.
The good news is that we’re moving Intercontinental Champion Stone Cold into a feud with The Rock, which is going to do wonders for both of them and let them yell asinine, delightful shit at each other for a few weeks until Austin’s an actual pro wrestler again.
And That’s Survivor Series ’97
What did we learn?
- Bret screwed Bret
- Bret screwing Bret counts as a homosexual act which is very bad
- The Undertaker is NOT a homo
- If Stone Cold had died in the fall of 1997 the WWF would’ve Weekend At Bernie’s‘d him for several years and told us he was fine
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