And the first Taker Dive.

Ground Zero: In Your House #17
Date: September 7, 1997
Location: Louisville Gardens, Louisville, Kentucky
Attendance: 4,963
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon, Jim Ross

This is fallout from the end of Summerslam 1997 where Shawn Michaels accidentally hit Undertaker in the head with a chair and cost him the WWF Title to Bret Hart.  If there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s make the Undertaker mad.  This was a great transition from the Border War and made perfect sense.  Speaking of the Border War, we also have Bret Hart defending the WWF Title against the Patriot.  Let’s get to it.

The opening video focuses on Shawn and his recent change of attitude after costing Undertaker the WWF Title. We hear from some fans who want to see Shawn get destroyed for what he’s done.

The announcers welcome us to the show and run down the card. Vince slips up and says Goldust will be facing Marlena.

We recap Brian Pillman vs. Goldust. Pillman has said he’s really the father of Goldust’s and Marlena’s daughter Dakota, making the feud incredibly personal. It was so personal that Goldust removed his face paint and talked to the cameras as Dustin Rhodes, saying that he wasn’t about to let Pillman take his child. A match was made where if Goldust won then Pillman would have to leave the WWF forever, but if Pillman won he would get Marlena for 30 days.

Goldust vs. Brian Pillman

Goldust jumps Pillman before he gets in the ring but Brian comes back with chops in the ring. An atomic drop and clothesline put Pillman down and Goldust rains down right hands in the corner. Pillman comes back with an elbow to the face but stops to chase Marlena around, allowing Goldust to catch him in a drop toehold into the steps. Back in and they chop it out again as Jerry implies Marlena has been with half of the locker room. Pillman’s bulldog is countered by Goldust crotching him on the top rope, sending Brian up the ramp.

That’s not enough for Goldust though so he chases Pillman up the ramp and suplexes him down onto the steel. Pillman gets crotched against the post for good measure before Goldust starts going after the leg. An elbow drop gets two on Brian and Goldust rams him into the buckle. The bulldog is countered again and Lawler is thrilled for some reason. Pillman stomps away and puts on a reverse chinlock to slow things down again. Goldust fights up and drops Brian with an electric chair but both guys are down.

It’s Pillman up first but he’s crotched for the third time with this one being on the turnbuckle. Goldust knocks him off the top and into the barricade, allowing Marlena to get in a slap of her own. Back in and Pillman blocks a superplex but misses a missile dropkick. Goldust loads up the Curtain Call but the referee gets knocked out in the process. Instead of staying on Brian, Goldust goes to check on the referee and Marlena gets on the apron with her loaded purse. In an old wrestling cliché, the purse is intercepted by Pillman and he knocks out Goldust for the pin.

Rating: C-. This was just ok but the ending was never really in doubt. The story made much more sense if you put Marlena with Pillman for the thirty days and it ended if Goldust won here. Pillman was in bad shape at this point due to a horrible ankle injury but he managed to get by well enough here. More on that later though.

Pillman drags Marlena away with him into a waiting car. Lawler gets the purse and looks inside to find a brick. Goldust chases after the car but winds up destroying his dressing room instead.

Scott Putski vs. Brian Christopher

Putski is the son of WWF Hall of Famer Ivan Putski while Christopher is the son of Jerry Lawler. However Lawler hasn’t admitted to this yet, but instead is saying he’s a big fan of Christopher and has helped him win matches. An immediate Jerry’s Kid chant starts us off, which Lawler writes off as a reference to Jerry Lewis’ Labor Day marathon. Putski gets in the first shot and drives Christopher into the corner before tossing him out to the floor.

Back in and Brian grabs a headlock before clotheslining him down with ease. Scott comes back with a hurricanrana for two but gets caught in a full nelson leg sweep faceplant (the Skull Crushing Finale or Chris Jericho’s Breakdown) gets two. Jerry: “That’s my boy!” JR: “What?” Putski falls to the floor and Brian follows with a nice dive to take him out again. The fall seems to have injured Scott’s knee and Brian wins by countout.

Rating: D. I’m thinking there was something to that knee injury as there was no reason to end the match so soon. It didn’t last that long and I have no idea why this was on a pay per view. Putski is a good example of a guy who had a great look but had the big problem of being his father’s son. His dad Ivan was a popular wrestler and there was no way Scott could live up to his reputation.

Post match Lawler and Christopher make fun of Putski’s knee injury. Scott is taken out on a stretcher.

We recap the triple threat match between the gang leaders. This was a popular feud in the midcard at this point, with Faarooq heading the Nation (now including a recently returned from injury Rocky Maivia), Savio Vega heading Los Boricuas and Crush heading the Disciples of Apocalypse (a biker gang). Tonight is about bragging rights.

Faarooq vs. Savio Vega vs. Crush

Crush gets double teamed to start but he comes back with a double clothesline to put both guys down. He misses a charge into the corner though and Savio grabs a rollup for two. Faarooq takes off his belt for a whipping but Crush takes it from him to give Faarooq the whipping instead. Savio is hiptossed down but Crush and Faarooq argue over who gets two in him. Crush is sent to the floor and Faarooq gets two on Savio off a spinebuster.

Faarooq gets jumped by a returning Crush and taken down with a powerslam for two. All three guys wind up on their knees for a three way slugout until Crush rams the other two’s heads together for two on Faarooq. Savio hits a LOUD chop in the corner on Faarooq but runs into Faarooq’s boot in the jaw. Crush knocks both guys down again and chokes Faarooq on the ropes until Savio pulls Crush’s hair for the break. Faarooq is sent to the floor and Crush hooks a chinlock on Vega.

Rather than easily breaking up the hold, Faarooq comes off the top with a forearm to Crush’s back to make him give up the chinlock. Vega pounds on Crush in the corner but Faarooq breaks up another cover and steals a two count of his own. Savio botches a neckbreaker on Faarooq but gets two anyway with Crush breaking it up this time. Now Crush and Faarooq seem fine with teaming up to work on Savio, including a double suplex. They both cover at the same time but the referee says no.

Since that idea didn’t work, Faarooq and Crush fight again and we get probably the sixth backbreaker of the match, giving Crush two on Faarooq. Vega gets knocked to the floor again and Faarooq gets another near fall on Crush via a powerslam. Savio and Crush double team Faarooq in a spike piledriver but Crush turns on Savio and knocks him to the floor. Crush Heart Punches Faarooq but Savio sneaks in with the spinwheel kick, knocking out Crush for the pin.

Rating: D. The match wasn’t horrible but man alive it wasn’t interesting. This just kept going with the same sequences over and over again. The gang wars story never caught on and this is a good example of why. Fans just didn’t care about the groups of guys where most of the people didn’t stand out in the slightest. Nothing to see here at all.

El Torito vs. Max Mini

This is a minis match, which is another idea that never caught on. Max Mini weighs 83lbs and is billed as the world’s smallest athlete. Torito is much bigger and dressed like a bull. Max backflips away from Torito a few times before headscissoring Torito down. Another big spinning headscissors puts Torito down on the floor and Max hits a nice dive to take him out. Back in and Torito (who is probably a foot taller and 50lbs heavier than Max) runs Max over to a chorus of boos.

A slam puts Max down but he hooks a wristlock on Torito to gain some control. Torito kicks him in the ribs but misses a charge, putting us right back to the wristlock. Torito bites Max on the trunks so Max kicks the referee in the shin and bites him as well for no apparent reason. Now Max runs to the floor and around the ring before sitting on Lawler’s lap and putting on his crown. JR: “Pretend it’s Brian!”

Max runs back inside but walks into a clothesline and a slam. Torito gores Max’s head and a few turnbuckles to waste time but Max pulls himself up into a VERY fast hurricanrana for two. Torito comes back with a nice powerbomb for two more before running Max over yet again. Max armdrags him to the floor and hits an amazing looking Asai Moonsault to take Torito down again. Back in and Max scores with a top rope hurricanrana before sunset flipping Torito for the pin.

Rating: C. Here’s the thing: the wrestling was ok, but probably 97% of fans have no interest in this match or style whatsoever. These guys may be big deals in Mexico, but in America they’ve viewed as comic acts and nothing more, which is why these things are rarely used in American wrestling. The wrestling was fun, but it had no future in the company and I think everyone knew it.

We recap the recent history of the tag team titles. As mentioned, Austin and Michaels were stripped of the belts. Therefore there was a tournament, won by Owen and Bulldog, but it was just for a spot in the tag title match, facing Austin and a partner of his choosing. Austin “chose” Mankind’s newest personality of a hippie named Dude Love, and by chose I mean Love showed up during the match and declared himself Austin’s partner. However, due to Austin’s neck injury at Summerslam, the titles have to be stripped tonight, as per the orders of new WWF Commissioner and former WWF Champion Sgt. Slaughter.

Slaughter is in the ring to vacate the titles and here’s Dude first to give up his belt. Dude says he’s very sad but he knows he couldn’t defend the titles on his own, nor would it be fair to do this without Austin. Therefore, with a heavy heart and a pained pancreas, he surrenders the belt. JR brings out Austin to an absolute eruption.

Austin doesn’t want to hear from Slaughter and threatens to punch Vince in the face if he shows the video of the neck injury again. He wants Slaughter to give him twenty pushups if he wants the tag belt. Instead Austin throws it to Slaughter’s feet and says everyone and everything here makes him sick. JR says the fans would love to see Austin fight tonight but it’s not worth him getting paralyzed. That earns JR a Stunner, sending the crowd even further into a frenzy. Again, we’ll get back to this later.

Owen and Bulldog are in the back and say they’ll win the title back in our next match. Owen also goes on a rant against Austin, saying he should be arrested and stripped of his Intercontinental Title.

Vince calls Austin a jackass, which becomes VERY important later.

Tag Titles: Headbangers vs. Godwinns vs. Owen Hart/British Bulldog vs. Legion of Doom

The titles are vacant coming in and this is under elimination rules with the last team surviving being the new champions. The Headbangers, comprised of Mosh and Thrasher, are a rather odd team to say the least. They’re obsessed with heavy metal music, pierced in various places and wrestle in skirts. The Godwinns are now evil and look more like something out of Deliverance. Since Bulldog and Owen already got to speak, we get comments from all of the other teams, basically saying they’re going to win. The LOD specifically wants to get their hands on the Godwinns.

Thrasher and Henry get things going with the Godwinn pounding away on the Headbanger’s back. In an interesting move, Thrasher tags in Phineas to give us the battle of the Godwinns. Henry wants none of that and tags in Mosh to keep things dull. Mosh grabs an armbar until Thrasher comes in with a middle rope clothesline. Thrasher tags in Animal who blasts Phineas out to the floor, giving us another lull in the match.

Back in and Animal throws Henry to the floor before punching him back off the apron. Owen and the Bulldog haven’t been a factor at all yet. Henry comes back in and tags Mosh who is clotheslined down by the now legal Hawk. Bulldog doesn’t want a tag from Hawk so Hawk punches him in the jaw for a tag. Mosh tags out to Phineas as this match is painfully uninteresting so far. Bulldog cranks on the arm before bringing in Owen, only to have him whipped into the Godwinn corner.

Henry gorilla presses Owen to a big reaction and the slam gets two. Hart comes back with an enziguri for two and tags out to Animal. Henry low bridges Animal out to the floor but the fans still don’t react at all. Hawk plays cheerleader from the apron and finally wakes the people up a bit but Henry runs Animal over again. Animal blocks a middle rope splash with a boot though, allowing for the hot tag to Hawk. Everything breaks down but Henry breaks up the Doomsday Device. The Godwinns bring in the slop bucket but Animal takes it away and blasts both of them with it, drawing a DQ and an elimination.

So we’re down to three teams now, with none of them doing anything at all for the crowd. Mosh comes in to beat up Henry and a moonsault gets two. Henry is sent to the floor but low bridges Mosh to the floor as well. Off to Phineas for an elbow drop and a double backdrop as the match just keeps going. They try the backdrop again but Mosh sunset flips Phineas for a quick pin, leaving us with the Headbangers vs. Owen/Bulldog.

Owen comes in immediately to pound away on Thrasher and the fans chant USA. Off to Bulldog for a back elbow and a suplex for two. Owen comes back in (minus a tag) with a missile dropkick for two on Thrasher but Hart gets caught by a cross body for two. Hart hits a quick neckbreaker as the USA chants continue. Back to Bulldog for what I think was supposed to be a double clothesline between he and Thrasher, but Thrasher was never touched. That looked horrible but it set up the hot tag to Mosh.

Things speed up but Owen pulls Mosh to the floor, only to have his spinwheel kick take Bulldog down by mistake. The Headbangers load up their powerbomb/guillotine legdrop combo but Bulldog crotches Mosh. Cue Austin with a Stunner to the Bulldog though, giving the Headbangers the pin and the titles.

Rating: D. Oh sweet goodness this was dull. I get that they had to have the two final teams in there, but man alive there had to be a better way to get there than what they went with. The tag team division was such a mess at this point and it was almost impossible to get interested in what was going on around the belts. Putting Austin in the title scene helped in the short term, but it didn’t do anything to help the major problems the titles were having.

The Headbangers celebrate in the concourse.

JR complains to Slaughter about what Austin did while swearing a lot.

We recap Bret vs. Patriot. Patriot beat Bret in a non-title match on Raw and wanted to stand up for America against the evil Canadian champion. This is much more a biography of Del Wilkes (Patriot), including history of his football career and time in Japan.

Patriot says he can beat Bret again.

Bret says he’s going to hit the Patriot once for every fan that has turned their back on him.

WWF World Title: Bret Hart vs. The Patriot

Patriot comes out to what would become Kurt Angle’s theme song. Bret jumps him to start before tying Patriot up in the Tree of Woe for some kicks to the ribs. The fans chant USA to tick Bret off even more so he rakes Patriot’s eyes through the mask. The left handed Patriot comes back with a clothesline and a nice dropkick before clotheslining the champion out to the floor. Bret takes his sweet time on the floor before heading back inside to hide in the corner.

Some nice armdrags put Bret down as the pace picks up a good bit. We hit the armbar Patriot sends Bret’s shoulder into the buckle before slapping on the armbar again. Hart finally makes it to the corner to break up the hold but Patriot wraps the weak arm around the ropes again. Bret comes back with some kicks to the ribs before focusing in on the knee. He cannonballs down onto the knee a few times before just punching the side of Patriot’s leg.

Patriot limps around the ring while holding the top rope but Bret kicks his knee out again to take him down. There’s a spinning toehold of all things from the champion before he locks on the Figure Four around the post. Back in and Patriot fights up as British Bulldog makes his way out to ringside. Bret takes Patriot down with a Russian legsweep and the fans chant for Austin. Patriot comes back with a kick to the side of Bret’s head and gets two off a sunset flip.

The challenger starts coming back with a left hand to the ribs and a legdrop but Bulldog’s distraction lets Bret take over again. Bret accidentally hits the Bulldog, allowing Patriot to get a rollup for two and a BIG pop from the crowd. The Uncle Slam (a full nelson slam) gets two for Patriot but Bulldog makes the save. Patriot goes after Bulldog and here’s Vader to help deal with the Englishman. Bret and Vader get in a fight but the match continues.

Vader and Bulldog are taken to the back and Patriot goes up top for his Patriot Missile (top rope shoulder) but Bret gets up at two. There was nowhere near as much of a reaction for that count as the previous ones. A suplex gets two more on Bret but he grabs a quick Stun Gun to put Patriot down again. The bulldog and middle rope elbow get two for Bret but Patriot slugs away at him in the corner.

The referee gets hit in the face with an elbow and as luck would have it, Patriot hits the Uncle Slam again just a few seconds later. It’s only good for two when the referee wakes up but it’s too late. A double clothesline puts both guys down but it’s Patriot up first, sending Bret chest first into the buckle. With nothing left to try, Patriot puts Bret in the Sharpshooter but Bret counters into one of his own and Patriot gives up, despite being about a foot from the rope.

Rating: B. The match worked well but the ending hurt it a good bit. Patriot is fighting for America and all that jazz, but he gives up instead of crawling another ten inches? The match took awhile to get going but once we got to the interference and all that jazz, things picked up a good bit.

Post match Bret beats up Patriot even more and piledrives him before snapping Patriot’s American flag. He chokes Patriot with a rope and beats up the security and officials that come out to pull him off. Bret leaves but when Michael Cole comes up to interview he calls all Americans losers.

We recap the main event which we’ve covered already. Shawn cost Undertaker the WWF Title and didn’t seem to mind all that bothered by it, going so far as to destroy Undertaker with a chair a few weeks later on Raw. At the same time, Paul Bearer has been accusing Undertaker of murdering his brother by lighting their childhood home on fire. Undertaker says it happened, but it was an accident. In other words, Undertaker is ticked off and tonight is Shawn’s punishment.

Shawn says he won’t rest in peace and that he’ll kick Undertaker’s teeth down his throat. Why? Because he can.

Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker

Michaels’ entrance takes so long that his music starts over again. The lights go out, the thunder starts rumbling, and the crowd wakes up again. Undertaker turns the lights back on with a big crack and Shawn hides behind the referee. Undertaker stalks him around the ring but Shawn keeps hiding, so Taker punches out the referee. Michaels bails to the floor and tries to walk out but Commissioner Slaughter orders him back to the ring. Undertaker throws the referee onto Shawn to slow him down, and NOW the beating begins.

Shawn tries to run again but this time he can’t get through the door to the house set, allowing Undertaker to slam him down on the steel. Michaels is thrown into some shrubbery before being tossed back down the ramp. They get back to ringside with Shawn trying to crawl anywhere he can to escape. Undertaker chokes him by the timekeeper’s area with Shawn desperately trying to ring the bell to end the match.

Undertaker punches him onto the announce table then punches him right back off of it, knocking Shawn into the barricade. They head back inside for some elbow drops from Undertaker before he rams Shawn into the buckle. Remember that the match hasn’t actually started yet. Shawn is whipped into the corner and out to the floor as Slaughter sends out a second referee. Michaels actually begs the new referee to disqualify Undertaker but the referee values his life too much to do that.

Back inside and Shawn gets in a cheap shot to the knee when the bell FINALLY rings. Shawn pounds away in the corner but is easily shoved off. The same sequence happens again but Undertaker grabs Shawn by the throat. A kick to the knee gives Shawn a breather but he goes up top and jumps into a right hand, giving Undertaker control again. Shawn’s sunset flip is countered by a lifting choke with Shawn being thrown around again.

Undertaker whips him into the corner and Shawn lands stomach first onto the top rope. Some kicks to the ribs launch Shawn crotch first onto the top rope as the destruction continues. Undertaker cranks on the arm for a bit and drops a leg on it for good measure. Old School is broken up with Undertaker being crotched on the ropes to finally give Shawn a breather. Taker rolls to the floor but he catches Shawn’s dive in midair to ram his back into the post.

A backdrop gets two for Undertaker and Shawn is caught trying to escape again. Shawn comes back with a quick neckbreaker but Undertaker casually sits up. Michaels bails to the floor and grabs the chair that started it all, only to have Undertaker kick it back into his face. The referee finally remembers to do his job and takes the chair away, so Undertaker kicks him in the face.

Shawn pounds Undertaker down and hits a pair of long range elbow drops. Cue Shawn’s bodyguard Rick Rude to throw a pair of brass knuckles to Shawn, who knocks Undertaker out cold. A third referee comes in but Undertaker kicks out at two, earning him a beating from Shawn. HHH and Chyna come out to ringside as well with HHH getting in some cheap shots on Undertaker. The Dead Man’s knees are sent into the steps as the second referee is woken up again, only to be drilled by Shawn as well.

Michaels makes the huge mistake of letting Undertaker get back up though and they slug it out again. A clothesline puts Undertaker on the floor but he lands on this feet, only to have HHH and Chyna go after him. Shawn drops a top rope ax handle on Undertaker’s back and chokes with a cord as HHH gets in some shots.

Back inside and Sweet Chin Music is blocked and Undertaker throws Shawn into the corner for more punishment. A big right hand drops Shawn and Undertaker gets the brass knuckles. Michaels is laid out again and HHH gets a right hand with them as well. Undertaker actually actually covers but Michaels gets up at two. The referee gets a chokeslam and here’s referee #4 to FINALLY throw this out.

Rating: A. This wasn’t a wrestling match in the slightest but it wouldn’t have made sense for it to be. It was however probably the best fight you’ll ever see, with incredible carnage and a furious Undertaker obsessed with getting his revenge. There wasn’t a ton of blood, but we’ll get to that later. Excellent brawl though and even more proof of how great these two are at multiple styles.

It’s still not over as Undertaker isn’t done yet. He throws HHH at Shawn but Michaels is able to score with Sweet Chin Music, knocking Undertaker into the ropes with his arms tied up. The fourth referee is punched out and Shawn gets the chair, but Undertaker kicks it back into his face and loads up a tombstone, only to have HHH make the save.

Officials come in as HHH is tombstoned, leaving Shawn alone again. Wrestlers come in to try and break up the fight and Shawn is finally taken to the floor. Undertaker shakes the wrestlers holding him off and DIVES OVER THE TOP ROPE to get at Shawn, which was the debut of said dive. DX bails to the back and the show ends with Undertaker alone in the ring.

Overall Rating: C+. This is a show that would have benefited from being two hours instead of three. The last hour is comprised of the last two matches and it more than holds up. The problem is everything else doesn’t work for the most part. It’s a bunch of boring matches that no one cared about and makes you less patient to get to the main events. Those two matches more than make up for the rest though, with the brawl definitely being worth checking out.

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