What the World Was Watching: In Your House – Canadian Stampede

Vince McMahon,
Jerry “the King” Lawler, and Jim Ross are in the booth and they are live from
Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  All of the
announcers are wearing cowboy hats, with Lawler’s looking ridiculous as it
swamps his head.
-As Scott pointed
out in a previous review of this show, this was the last two hour WWF
pay-per-view.

Free for
All:  The Godwinns defeat The New
Blackjacks when Phineas pins Barry Windham with a small package at 5:34:
This was the last Free for All match in WWF history.  The New Blackjacks are the faces, as the
Calgary crowd takes to their cowboy gimmick, and they put together one of their
better efforts in recent memory as they dominate much of the match against the
newly turned Godwinns.  However, this
effort isn’t enough to give them a much needed win as Henry helps Phineas block
a suplex attempt and give the match to the Godwinns.  Rating:  *½
Now onto the
pay-per-view, which has another awesome 1997 black and white video package
.
A video package
hypes the Hunter Hearst Helmsley-Mankind match.
Opening
Contest:  Hunter Hearst Helmsley
(w/Chyna) and Mankind wrestle to a double count out at 13:12:
This is a rematch of the 1997 King of the Ring finals and
that’s pretty much what the entire feud has been based on thus far.  The match works a more brisk pace than their
encounter the previous month, which is to be expected since neither guy had to
wrestle a match earlier in the night.  It
doesn’t take long for Chyna to get involved, as she breaks up a Mandible Claw
and then works a nice spot where Helmsley whips Mankind into her and she slams
him into the steps.  This is a nice
combination of a bloodless Attitude Era-type brawl and a scientific encounter,
as Helmsley spends the middle of the match working the left leg.  Helmsley also shows a great deal of
improvement in this match, as he diversifies his moveset and does not resort to
long stalling spots.  The match built
very well and made you want to see a rematch from these two, so it accomplished
its intended purpose and I don’t mind the double count out here.  Rating:  ***¾
The Honky Tonk Man
and Sunny encourage us to dial the WWF Superstar Line to hear from the winners
and losers of tonight’s matches.
-Dok Hendrix
narrates a video package of the WWF’s participation in the Calgary Stampede
parade.
-Hendrix interviews
the Hart Foundation and Steve Austin interrupts the interview but is held back
by WWF officials.  Bret Hart says that
the Hart Foundation will prove itself by beating Austin and his team
five-on-five.
-Before our next
match starts, Helmsley and Mankind fight back into the crowd and Chyna tries to
get involved to protect her man.  The
crowd loves it.
The Great Sasuke
defeats Taka Michinoku with a tiger suplex at 9:58:
This light heavyweight exhibition introduces the WWF to
athletes from Michinoku Pro Wrestling in Japan and it’s a good thing in that it
shows a more high-flying light heavyweight style than the WWF had been
showcasing on television up to this point. 
This match is really like a video game in that it combines a small
segment of mat wrestling, a series of strikes from both guys, and then the high
risk moves that both men are known for. 
Michinoku hits the Michinoku Driver, but Sasuke kicks out at two and
finishes Taka shortly thereafter when he counters Taka’s dive off the top rope
with a dropkick.  You may wonder why
Sasuke went over, since Michinoku eventually became the cornerstone of the
short-lived Light Heavyweight division, but the WWF anticipated that he would
be the first champion.  However, Sasuke
said he would only defend the title in Japan and would not drop it on WWF
television and when McMahon heard those comments he fired Sasuke and Sasuke was
never seen in the WWF again.  A really
entertaining contest that had great pacing and made both guys look like
significant threats in the light heavyweight division.  Rating:  ****
Helmsley and
Mankind are shown continuing their fight outside of the arena.  Helmsley is slightly busted open and he takes
a pipe to Mankind’s back.
A commercial for Cause
Stone Cold Said So
is aired.  Buy
your copy for $19.95 (plus $6 shipping & handling) by calling 815-734-1161.
-The commentators
say that Ahmed Johnson should have been fighting the Undertaker in the next
match, but he suffered a knee injury two weeks ago and was replaced by Vader.
-Hendrix interviews
Vader and Paul Bearer and Bearer says that the Undertaker killed his whole
family and Vader is going to beat the Undertaker like he did at the Royal
Rumble and win the WWF title.
WWF Championship
Match:  The Undertaker (Champion) defeats
Vader (w/Paul Bearer) with a Tombstone at 12:39:
The Undertaker’s title reign in 1997 was loaded with lame
duck title defenses and this one of them as Vader was hardly a threat to anyone
at this point in time, jobbing to Ken Shamrock two months earlier and being
absent from last month’s King of the Ring pay-per-view.  Still, with Ahmed Johnson on the shelf and
all of the top talent booked into the ten man tag main event, the WWF had to go
with someone and you could do much worse than Vader.  Despite this, Ross tries to build Vader up as
someone who really can win this match, talking about his Japanese
exploits.  Everyone has their working
boots on tonight, as both men knock each other around with reckless abandon and
avoid a rehash of their boring Royal Rumble encounter.  The crowd wants to see the Undertaker tear
apart Bearer, but Vader consistently comes to his manager’s aid.  They do a great false finish where Vader is
chokeslammed off the second rope after the Undertaker gives him a low blow to
block a Vader Bomb and the crowd works itself into a frenzy as the Undertaker
runs through a chokeslam and impressive Tombstone to send Vader to the
showers.  As far as big man matches go,
it doesn’t get much better than this. 
This match could have easily rebuilt Vader as a heel, but this was his
last dance in the WWF main event scene as a singles.  Rating:  ***¾
A video package
chronicles all of the chaos in the WWF right now with the gang wars and the
Austin-Hart Foundation feud
.
Hendrix interviews
Steve Austin and his team for the ten man tag. 
Each member of the team cuts a quick promo, except for Austin who heads
for the ring.
Farmer’s Daughter
sings the Canadian national anthem before the ten man tag.
Howard Finkel
recognizes Ralph Klein, premier of Alberta, and Stu and Helen Hart.
Bret “the Hitman”
Hart, Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart & “The Loose
Cannon” Brian Pillman defeat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Goldust, Ken Shamrock
& The Legion of Doom when Owen pins Austin with a schoolboy at 24:31:
Since we are in Canada we have an inversion of the usual
face-heel alignment.  However, the Legion
of Doom are so popular on both sides of the border that they are still
cheered.  Austin is booed out of the
building, which he seems to enjoy.  The
crowd loses its mind when the Hart Foundation come out and Bret gives his
mother his shades and Lawler makes a great joke about how he didn’t know they
came in bifocals.  You might think that
they would keep Bret-Austin separate for a while to start this match, but you
would be wrong as Bret and Austin go toe-to-toe at the beginning and the crowd
vocally cheers Bret’s offensive moves and loudly boos Austin.  Austin even hooks a Million Dollar Dream,
which Bret counters by kicking off the ropes, and Austin finds a way to escape
so he’s not pinned like Survivor Series 1996. 
Everyone runs through their trademark spots, but in a ten man tag it’s
difficult to get a pin in those situations so the match continues.  They do an interesting spot where both sides
incapacitate someone on the other side, as Austin damages Owen’s right leg with
a chair and Bret damages Austin’s right leg with a fire extinguisher in
retaliation.  Eventually both men return
from receiving medical attention, with Owen returning
second and breaking up an Austin Sharpshooter on Bret.  Austin proceeds to pick a fight with the Hart
family and in the midst of the chaos, Austin is rolled into the ring where Owen
surprises him and finishes him off.  This
was creatively booked and it did a nice job keeping the focus on Bret-Austin,
as they had two small singles matches within the confines of this matchup.  It’s also a sad match from a historical perspective
since three of the five men on the Hart side are no longer with us, Stu and
Helen are gone, and Owen was the only member of his team still in the WWF in
December 1997.  Rating:  *****
After the match,
the teams continue to brawl and WWF officials and Alberta police have to
separate the Harts from Austin’s team. 
Austin isn’t happy to see his team lose and he interrupts the Hart
celebration by attacking Bret with a chair and this gets him arrested.  Undeterred, Austin makes sure to flip off the
Canadian fans on his way to the back. 
After Austin is taken away, the Hart family celebrates in the ring.
The Final Report Card:  Was there something in the water on the night
of this show or what?  Everyone put in a
great effort tonight and it produced the best WWF pay-per-view of the year and
perhaps of all-time from a workrate perspective.  If there is one pay-per-view that you need
for your collections from the 1990s, this is arguably it.  An easy thumbs up for this show.
Attendance: 
12,151
Buyrate:  0.59
Show Evaluation:  Thumbs Up