Thursday, November 17, 2011

Series of Surviving: 1997

By Chad Smart
@chadsmart on Twitter

When I was planning this series, I debated if I should go in order or skip around. The reason for skipping around was because whenever the topic of the Survivor Series is brought up, talk usually will gravitate towards the 1997 show. While I considered saving this one for last, truth is, I wanted to get it out of the way. I’ll explain why as we go on.

This show was only released on DVD as part of the complete Survivor Series Anthology set. For some reason after the complete set was released instead of releasing four volumes of 5 years each like they did with Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble, and SummerSlam, WWE felt the need to only release 2 volumes covering 1987 to 1996. Since I don’t have this show on DVD and my VHS copy is in storage (and because I really didn’t want to watch it again), I’m doing this blog mostly from memory. 

I looked up the results of the show and none of the traditional Survivor Series matches really jumped out at me. The only interesting thing I recall is Jim Ross pointing out Team Canada (British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Phil LaFon and Doug Furnas) only had one Canadian on the team. The show took place when there were several “gang” teams taking up space. I don’t think I’d ever be inclined to watch Disciples of the Apocalypse vs. Truth Commission match by choice.

Steve Austin had a SummerSlam rematch with Owen Hart at the Survivor Series. I don’t remember anything about the match other than Austin regaining the I-C title after vacating the title due to a neck injury suffered in the SummerSlam match.

Mankind vs. Kane
There are two historical elements to the show. The first one is this was the in-ring debut of Kane who had made his presence known a month earlier at the Badd Blood PPV when he cost the Undertaker a victory at the first Hell In A Cell match. Here’s an interesting trivia factoid concerning Kane’s appearance. The man behind the mask, Glen Jacobs wrestled at the 1995, 1996, and 1997 Survivor Series with a different identity at each show. In 1995 he was Isaac Yankem DDS. In 1996 he took the place of Kevin Nash and “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel. Finally in 1997 he found a character that caught on with the fans as Undertaker’s little brother, Kane.

The second historical aspect is something I wish never happened. In the main event Bret Hart lost the WWF World Title to Shawn Michaels when Vince McMahon had the match stopped while Shawn had Bret in Bret’s finishing move, the Sharpshooter. The “Montreal Screw job” changed the landscape of wrestling during the Monday Night Wars era. It gave birth to WWF’s Attitude Era which help turn the tide in the battle for ratings while WCW clung to the already on life support nWo angle.

The Screw Job...
I don’t wish it hadn’t happened because I’m a Bret Hart fan and I feel he was wronged on his way out of the WWF. I wish it hadn’t happened because it has become an event that in some ways is bigger than wrestling. Vince McMahon and company later recreated the event and just this past July at the Money In The Bank PPV during the John Cena/CM Punk match it appeared as if the ending was going to be rehashed until John Cena knocked out Johnny Ace to prevent the match from stopping.  Even TNA, who had nothing to do with the original Screw job have used the same finish in matches because referee Earl Hebner now works for them. Yes, the 1997 incident was a major event in wrestling history but why, 14 years later, do people in charge feel the need to keep rehashing it? Every time it gets repeated, or attempted, it makes the original lose some of its aura of was it real or staged. Plus it shows how creatively bankrupt writers are today.

14 years later...
Wrestling companies aren’t the only ones who need to let it go. Whenever Earl Hebner enters the ring for the first time during a show fans chant, “You screwed Bret.” It’s such a common chant TNA has made a Hebner t-shirt that proudly proclaims, “Yes I Did.”  Much like the “What?” chants, the fans need to realize the shelf life of the Screw job is way past the expiration date and move on to something new.

Since I didn’t get to re-watch the show, I can’t say if it holds up or not. If you’ve never seen it, it is worth seeing for the historical value though. As much as I may be sick of the Screw job, I can’t deny its effect on the wrestling landscape. Had it not taken place, who knows if the Attitude Era would have happened.

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  1. once again you are a complete hater. when will you be a fan again and quit ripping on the industry. I find about 1/3 of your rants accurate, yet i continue reaing. I don't understand how a 'fan' can continually hate on the industry he claim to adore. RISE ABOVE HATE

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  3. You're the epitome of the phrase SMART MARK!