Rewriting the Book
By CG Scum
What if Shawn Michaels never ‘lost his smile” or forfeited the WWF title in February of 1997?
We move along into the final chapters of our story fresh off Bret Hart once again escaping as WWF Champion against all odds. Obviously, given the finish to the huge triple threat title match at “Ground Zero,” the “Hitman” still has unfinished business with the Undertaker and as always, his arch rival Shawn Michaels. Despite each of these men posing a formidable threat the Hart and his top spot in the WWF, it is a one on one that he has off camera at the end of this chapter that lays the ground work for his possible demise with in the company…or does it? As for the Undertaker, it seems based on his decision to “do the right thing,” that he now will have to face off with whomever or whatever Paul Bearer has been holding over his head over the past few months, in addition to trying to settle his personal scores with both Hart and Michaels. HBK on the other hand, has just unveiled the beginning of his master plan, bringing several superstars to his side and promising to unveil several more. How will this new faction evolve, who are these “others” that he has spoken of, and how will their eventual reveal affect the overall landscape of the WWF? Some fade off and others return in a big way as we move full speed towards “One Night Only,” “Badd Blood,” and the “Survivor Series” as we trudge ahead into Part IX and continue moving down the homestretch to explore the long term ramifications of “Shawn Michaels never losing his smile.”
(Note #1)- As we move forward in Part IX of the story, as in previous chapters, there are some events at this point in WWF history that actually took place that stay within the major storylines of this “Rewriting of the Book,” which I personally believe are better off left as they occurred. Thus, although the dates of when the happenings occur in some cases may be a few weeks off as far as when they actually occurred, they do play well in continuing the story as well as continuing to build where they will go heading forward. In my eyes these happenings would have happened regardless of the “losing of Shawn’s smile”(or for the less significant events, they just fit perfectly) and are some of the more memorable moments in the company’s history and leaving them out I think would lessen the story I am moving along with. I do add a few minor twists to these instances, but for the most part they are untouched. In giving credit and recalling these moments, I will label them with three stars before and a corresponding number after these segments (***) and in doing so give credit in my brief explanation in recalling these spots to the website thehistoryofwwe.com , where I got the descriptions that I am using. At the bottom of this part, each numbered event will be explained.)
(Note #2)- During this part of the story, there will begin to be mention of a behind the scenes correlation behind several people, most notably, Bret Hart, Vince McMahon, and Shawn Michaels. Throughout this story, it has been my effort to present the tale as though you, the reader, is “watching” each week’s program, much as you would when they aired in 1997. This was my attempt to most realistically recreate the on goings during this time period. Thus, there are several items that remained the same, and even some of the “surprises” throughout may have been somewhat predictable as to who would be in a certain spot given that we all know how the history of this very popular era played out. Again, it was my attempt to approach this as though it is 1997 and to this point, there would be no possible way of knowing for example who may side with Shawn Michaels as the “masked man” angle played out. Likewise, the upcoming unveiling of the Paul Bearer/Undertaker saga I would think is a no brainer to almost anyone reading this, however, if you look at it with the mindset that you are simply “watching” each week’s program as though it was the original airing, without the historical knowledge that we now have, I think you will see how I tried to recreate certain great things in an even more sensational manner, while I did away with or changed other things that were maybe not so effective. That being said, when the “behind the scenes” instances that are referred to in the next few chapters are brought about, they will be brief, as for the most part in 1997, these types things were not made open to the average Monday night viewer and fan. My logic on this as has been throughout the entire story is that just like being a fan during this time, you will see the angle play out “on TV,” without knowledge of the behind the scenes interaction and that is for a reason. Given that these “talks” actually play an enormous role in how the story eventually pays off however, I will be adding a final chapter, a “conclusion” if you will to this story that will “unveil” the contents of these “closed door meetings.” Thus, while you may scratch your head and wonder how and why the events play out how they did in the final several “shows,” when the contents of said conversations are released in full, not only will it all make sense, I think you will agree that it will perfectly set up the closing of the story and once you get there, you will understand in full why I opted to go this way in writing the final few chapters.
All that being said, this chapter begins on a Monday night in the Cincinnati Gardens…
Raw is War- September 9, 1997- Cincinnati, OH
Raw begins with a recap promo piece on the World Title match at “Ground Zero.” We see, the ups and downs of this roller coaster ride of a match with Slaughter making Rick Rude leave ringside, Undertaker’s dominance, another chair shot gone awry, the emergence of an unidentifiably man having his way with the “Phenom,” and eventually, the “Hitman” retaining the gold in spite of the whirlwind of a match he had just endured. After the piece and the intro theme, we head directly to the broadcast table, where Jim Ross and Vince McMahon stand by once again with the Honky Tonk Man sitting in for “The King,” who is preparing for his big European Title tournament semifinal match against Shawn Michaels tonight. The three broadcasters tell us that in addition to that bout, we will see the new Intercontinental Champion, Hunter Hearst Helmsley defend his title against Owen Hart, who earned the shot with a victory over Ken Shamrock just one day before. They also tell us that both Bret Hart and the Undertaker are in Cincinnati tonight and that both will be addressing the events that took place at “Ground Zero,” and in addition, we will hear from WWF Commissioner, Sgt.Slaughter regarding the controversial finish to the Tag Team title tournament. After this, we go back up to the ring, where our opening contest features Faarooq taking on Brian Pillman. Pillman gets the victory with a rollup, when Jim Neidhart, who was in his corner, grabbed the ankle of Faarooq, prompting D-Lo and Kama (who seconded Faarooq) to charge over and attack the “Anvil.” At this point, Rocky Maivia came to ringside just as Faarooq prepared to hit Pillman with a chair as the referee was distracted by the outside the ring activities. Pausing before using the weapon upon seeing Maivia, Faarooq questioned his coming to ringside and that distraction allowed for the three count. An angry Faarooq, D-Lo, and Kama argued with the official, as Maivia simply shrugged and returned to the back with a sly smile on his face. Before heading to break, we are shown a backstage shot of Paul Bearer addressing the New Blackjacks, Goldust, Savio Vega, and Vader. He tells them “It is time to put an end to him once and for all, it is time for him to visit his greatest demon of all, it is time for him to rest in peace.” All of the ‘Alliance’ members nodded in agreement, laughing and hollering in an almost celebratory manner.
We return and see a brief backstage shot of Ken Shamrock, Sycho Sid, and Paul Ellering. Shamrock is still seething mad from his loss to Owen Hart the night before, but his associates manage to calm him down. Once settled, he congratulates Sid on his victory and his moving on in the European title tournament and the “Sycho” reassures him that the British Bulldog will pay for his and the Hart’s constant interference of late in Shamrock’s business. Ellering then suggests that the two stay on the same page and they issue a challenge for “Badd Blood” for a tag team match between the two and Bulldog and Owen. After this, we head back to ringside, where the music of the Commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter hits and he appears on the TitanTron to address the crowd. Slaughter begins by asking both the new tag champs, Billy Gunn and Jesse James to come to the ring as well as the Road Warriors. Both teams arrive and the Sarge revisits the events of the championship round match between the two. He concludes that while Gunn and James are the tag champs despite their win coming via disqualification that he feels it is only fair that the two teams square off in a rematch to be held next week on Raw. Gunn and James seem a bit worried by this decision, while Hawk and Animal confidently applaud the commissioner’s ruling. The Road Warriors begin to walk away after the Commissioner signs off and it looks like Gunn and James are about to pull a sneak attack, when the arena lights go to black and we then once again hear an ear piercing bang with flames shooting from all four corner posts. The lights flicker between complete darkness and a red light that bathes the arena for just a few split seconds at a time. Although it is not totally viewable, it can be made out that there is some action in the ring. After nearly a minute of this, the lights return, but they are still dim and the light casted is completely red. At this point, neither of the two tag teams are anywhere to be seen, and the only one standing in the ring somehow is Paul Bearer. He speaks, immediately calling out the Undertaker.
Bearer: “Undertaker, I tried to be fair. I tried to warn you and you just would not believe me. You just couldn’t come back home where you belong to be with, to be with, well, to be with your family. (J.R. questions this statement, simply asking, “His family, what the hell is he talking about?) So, Undertaker, I ask, no, I demand that you come to this ring and look at all of your ‘creatures of the night,’ as you are exposed for what you truly are. No fancy entrance, no gong and music, you don’t deserve those things, so just get your “dead ass” out here and face the music.” (After a few seconds, the Undertaker finally walks slowly through the curtain and to the ring. Upon entrance, he tries to begin speaking, but Bearer cuts him off.) No, your time for speaking and your time for action has passed, Undertaker. So let me get right to the point, as it is your turn to listen to me. I told you to fall in line and you knew the consequences, and now I have been left with no choice. You see (Bearer looks to the crowd), all of you people have grown to love and cheer this evil man that stands before me, but I don’t think you would cheer him if you knew his past. (‘Taker at this point grabs Bearer by the throat and speaks in rebuttal)
Undertaker: “Listen, you fat, slimy piece of garbage. You want to dig up the painful memories of my past, then fine, how about I do it for you.(Turns to the crowd)I think if I can share this with anyone, I can do it with the ‘Creatures of the Night.’ You see, when I was just a boy, my life was altered drastically when my family’s home was burnt to the ground in a horrific blaze that will always remain etched in my mind. I watched it slowly burn to the ground and as it did it also took the lives of both my mother and my father. It also claimed the life of my best friend, my little brother. Being so helpless and watching and waiting for them to be rescued was about the most helpless feeling I have ever had in my life, before or after and honestly, it made me a dark and bitter man. It was the reason that I turned to a scumbag like this (Points to Bearer) in the first place. It brought out an evil side of me that I still have to this very day. Now, I am not sure why you have insisted on making me revisit this tragedy, but there you have it Paul, there you have it fans of the WWF, these are the scars and wounds that I carry around from my past. I am not sure why I am explaining this before you, but there it is Paul, now did I leave anything out, and be careful trying to trick me, as none of your goons are here to save you right now.
Bearer: ‘Ohhh, Undertaker. Yesss, yesss, yesss, you did leave one thing out and it was a very big thing. You see, last night after you decided to go into business for yourself, you seemed to have the WWF title won. But then the world could see, even though it was in the dark, a figure that absolutely manhandled you. In case you haven’t put two and two together, that man was exactly what you left out. That man was not only at “Ground Zero” to confront and maim you, but he is coming here to the WWF in the very near future to finish the job and leave you for dead just like you did to him.(Undertaker interrupts)
Undertaker: “Spit it out, what the hell are you trying to say?”
Bearer: “What I am saying is this “Dead Man.” What I am saying is that the guy who tombstoned you last night, and the guy who is responsible for things, oh I don’t know, let’s say responsible for ‘heating things’ up around here is your brother, Undertaker. Yesss, that is right, it is your brother, Kane, and he is coming to get his revenge for you never even trying to help him out. Because of you, Kane is a disfigured monster that has had to watch his selfish brother turn into a worldwide superstar without even once contacting or bringing his little brother into the picture. So, the Undertaker, the hero to millions, the “Phenom,” is a man that left his own family for dead to burn in a fire and now, all these years later Undertaker, it is you that will pay the ultimate price, it is you that will be placed in your own fiery grave, and it is your little brother, Kane that is coming to see fit that you, Undertaker, will be the one that will rest in peace.” (Bearer walks away as the Undertaker looks confused and speechless. ‘Taker almost starts talking, but instead drops the microphone, hangs his head and walks to the back as the show cuts to a commercial)
After the break, we see the Undertaker, now wheeling his suitcase and readying to leave the building, still with his head hung. Dok Hendrix attempts to stop him for a comment, but he is not even acknowledged. Just before ‘Taker opens the door to leave, Chainz rushes up and stops him. He offers up, “Hey, “Dead Man,” we had no idea. All is forgiven and forgotten brother and the D.O.A. is and always will be here for you man.” Undertaker again, does not even respond, just shoots a glance and heads out the door to his car. As the camera follows him he takes a step back and looks shocked and then the camera pans out and we see a vehicle that is obviously his completely engulfed in flames. He simply continues to pace forward with seemingly no direction as Chainz looks on from the doorway. When Chainz turns and walks back in, the camera stays on him and he is assaulted by all five “Unholy Alliance” members. They pummel him and drag him along with them as Bearer can be heard saying “We will take his family and we will take his friends until he is a broken man, ohhh yesss, yesss, yessss.”
The cameras then take us back to the ringside area where Bret “the Hitman” Hart’s music hits. Bret comes to the ring by himself and immediately upon entry after some brief taunting of the crowd with his title belt, he speaks.
Bret: “Well, well, well. Cincinnati, Ohio, the heartland of America. Where are all your heroes, tonight? They have sent every weapon they had at me here in the WWF. The brought “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and I beat his foul mouthed, redneck ass every time I ever fought him until my little brother, Owen did us all a favor and finished him off for good. They sent the Undertaker, “the Phenom” at me to try and make it so I could not wrestle in America at SummerSlam. They even put that piece of garbage Shawn Michaels on as the referee, but guess what happened? I beat the living hell out of the Undertaker and became the five- time WWF Champion. Oh, and of course, they brought the WWF’s golden boy, Shawn Michaels. How many times am I going to have to beat Shawn Michaels’ little, skinny ass before they get me some real competition around here? So, since the WWF brass couldn’t find one man to beat me, they send Undertaker and Michaels at me in the same match and once again, here I stand, the “Excellence of Execution,” with the WWF belt around my waist and all of the American wrestling fans are crying and making excuses just like they always do. Well, get used to it people, because Bret Hart is going nowhere and I am ready to take on and defeat any of your so called “patriotic” Americans that you can throw my way. Now, I was just told by the new commissioner, Mr. G.I. Joe, Sgt. Slaughter that at “One Night Only” in Birmingham, England, that I have to once again take on the Undertaker in a one on one match. Ho hum, yawn, is what I say to that. I am absolutely fine with taking him out again, but exactly what I told Commissioner Slaughter was this. I will put this belt on the line against Undertaker at “One Night Only,” but that is the last time I am fighting him. We have a roster full of talented superstars back in that locker room, and unlike Shawn Michaels when he was the champion, I still believe in giving the young guys a chance, I still believe in the great spirit of competition that was once seen around here in the WWF. So, for “Badd Blood” in St. Louis on October the fifth, I am issuing an open challenge. I am issuing a challenge not to the boys in the back, but a challenge to America and all you ignorant, hick fans across this lousy nation. You see unlike you delusional liars out here, I am a man of my word and I am what I say I am, the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be, so America, come on down and step up to the plate. Bring your best, bring the hero of your choosing to “Badd Blood,” so I can line him up and knock him down just like I have all your other red, white, and blue pretenders. But don’t, whatever you all do, don’t get those hopes up, because just like everything else that the good ol’ U.S.A. tries to accomplish, I can guarantee you they will come up short and they will fail.” (Hart walks away to the back, as J.R. and McMahon show disappointment in “what Bret Hart has become.”)
Before the break, we see Shawn Michaels and Rick Rude in the back. They walk up to Shawn’s opponent tonight, Jerry “The King” Lawler and offer him a “spot” in their new group. “You know “King,” you and me, we aren’t so different,” Michaels begins. “I can really see a guy like you, working alongside a couple of guys like me and the “Ravishing One” here. Heck, we could use a man on our side out there at the commentary position to finally give us a fair shake.” King responds, “You know, I have always admired both of your work, and Hunter’s too. Oh boy, and don’t get me started on that Chyna. Something about her just really gets me crazy, if you know what I mean.” HBK replies, “Know what you mean, come on “King,” you are talking to the “Heartbreak Kid” and a man they call “Ravishing,” of course we know what you mean, daddy, we invented what you mean. So, if it is a taste of that fine Chyna you are craving, let’s do some business here tonight and get the “King” on board with our little Kliq, where life is always a bit sweeter, if you hear what I am screamin’ at ya’.” Rude and Michaels each put an arm on Lawler’s shoulder as they all walk together toward the gorilla position. Helmsley and Chyna duck out of a dressing room and join them as they walk. Chyna removes HBK and Rude’s arms and seductively rubs on the King’s chest, noting, “hands off fellas, if it’s a sweet taste the “King” is looking for, I’m his queen.” Lawler’s eyes bug out of his head and he rubs his hands together all excited as they keep walking. With a big smile on his face, Lawler mutters, “sweet taste, oh boy,” as the show heads to a break.
Returning from break, HBK’s music hits and he and Rude come through the curtain, followed by Lawler and Chyna walking hand in hand. (Helmsley stayed in the back as he had to prepare for his title defense up next.) J.R. chimes in on the sight of Lawler and Chyna, “Good grief, now there is one desperate old man. He better be careful, Chyna may be more man than he is.” McMahon echoes this adding, “Indeed, she is a whole lot of woman, that is for sure.” They all hit the ring as the referee prepares to call for the bell.
Match- European Title Tournament Semifinals- Shawn Michaels (with Rick Rude) vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler (with Chyna)- The official tries to get Rude and Chyna out of the ring to officially start the match, and eventually Rude obliges, but Chyna continues to back Lawler into a corner a rub her hands all over him. The wide grin across Lawler’s face is almost cartoonish, as each time Chyna goes to step away she then comes back in to continue seducing the “King.” Finally, the ref calls for the bell to start the match, but just as he does, she hops back in one last time and plants a long kiss on Lawler, prompting Rude to reenter and the referee to race over to admonish him. As Chyna releases the lip lock, a woozy Lawler steps toward the center of the ring, but again before Chyna leaves, she turns back around behind him. This time though, she drops to one knee and floors him with a low blow before scurrying under the bottom rope. Doubled over from the shot, Lawler walks right into “Sweet Chin Music” and the referee returns to make a three count ending the bout and pushing Michaels into the finals just seconds into the match. The group jumps on Lawler after the match, with Rude hitting his “Rude Awakening” neckbreaker and Chyna following up with a pedigree before they all share a laugh and walk off. “The King let his lust get the better of him and paid for it here,” J.R. concluded, “and now Shawn Michaels will face the winner of Sycho Sid and the British Bulldog’s match here next week to crown a new European Champion at “One Night Only.” We return quickly to the back, where Bret Hart is walking with Pillman, Neidhart, Owen and Bulldog, stopping several arena workers and backstage hands and questioning them as to whether or not they know what happened to Billy Gunn and Jesse James after the bizarre ending to their earlier trip to the ring. Bret eventually tells Owen and Bulldog to go “take care of business” and that they will find them if they are around. While Owen and Davey head toward the ring, Bret, “Anvil,” and Pillman continue to go in the other direction calling out for the tag champs by their first names.
Following the show’s final commercial, Owen and the Bulldog are introduced, followed by Helmsley, who is accompanied by the returning Chyna and we are set for main event time on Raw.
Match- Intercontinental Championship Match- Champion- Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Chyna) vs. Owen Hart (with the British Bulldog)- The match begins and immediately the pace is fast and furious. Owen scores with a pair of shoulder blocks that send the champ to his back, and the Helmsley returns the favor as the two opponents appear very evenly matched. A hip toss attempt by Helmsley is blocked and Hart scores with one of his own before Hunter hops up and recklessly charges, walking right into an armdrag that Owen sits back on into an armbar. Choosing to stick with the limb, Owen outstretches it and drops a series of knees before again scoring with an armdrag that winds up with the I-C champ on the losing end of another armbar. Helmsley powers up to his feet, and bodyslams the challenger, but ever the competitor, Owen holds on to his arm and rolls through it right back into a third armbar. Frustrated, Hunter bangs his hand on the mat, before grabbing the ropes for a break and then sliding out for a quick breather. Upon returning, he takes a short cut and catches the number one contender with a thumb to the eye, before a hand full of hair assists him in putting Owen on his back. A split screen shows Bret, Neidhart, and Pillman still searching for Gunn and James in the back as Helmsley starts to open up on Owen. After mounting him and raining multiple punches to his foes’ face, Helmsley scoops him up and hits a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Keeping control of the tempo, he whips Hart in and scores a big backdrop, before a second Irish Whip results in another count of two when Hunter hits his “Harley Race-esque” knee off the ropes. A third whip, this time to the buckle sees Hunter follow in with a clothesline and then score with a beautiful vertical suplex for another close call. “The Intercontinental Champion is really on his game here,” J.R. notes, “dare I say the could be starting a reign that could eventually see him called the ‘greatest I-C champ of all time,’” adds Ross in an obvious poke at Honky Tonk sitting next to him. “Come on J.R., everyone knows that the Honky Tonk Man is and will always be the ‘greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time,” the former titlist replies. After the two count, Helmsley again send Hart off the ropes, where he hits a boot to the stomach and then sets up for the pedigree. Owen blocks though and buys some time with a backdrop reversal. Hunter then charges, but Owen ducks and slides around for a backslide, getting a two count. After squirming free, Helmsley stands and walks right into a small package and another two count, before hopping to his feet and seeing Owen get behind him and run him toward the ropes to try a third pinning attempt with a rollup. As he does though, Chyna leaps to the apron and as HHH ducks, she belts Owen with a stiff forearm smash, knocking him backwards. We again see the split screen at this point, and Bret, Neidhart, and Pillman finally locate a dressing room door with the names of the tag champs on it. They walk in and are still calling their names and the screen returns to one. After the Chyna interference, Bulldog chases around to her side of the ring and the two stand off as the official jumps to the floor to get between the two. At this point, two masked “men in green” come from the crowd, just as we see Michaels and Rude start walking down the ramp. With the referee’s attention on the outside and Bulldog still occupied with Chyna, Owen turns toward the “men in green.” When he does, HHH hits him from behind with a low blow and then scores with the pedigree, as Michaels and Rude hustle the referee back into the ring. The masked men never even entered the ring, as their distraction proved enough, as the ref slides in and counts three, allowing Helmsley to claim the victory and retain the title. Bulldog has little chance, as he is dropped and mauled by Michaels, Rude, and Chyna. The masked men finally enter the fray, and toss the referee over the top rope before starting to aid Helmsley in a three on one attack on Owen. “What the hell, where is the rest of the Hart Foundation,” screams Ross, “this is another gang attack by Shawn Michaels and his cronies.” At this point, with Bulldog and Owen completely helpless, officials and agents storm the ring to try and break things up, but one by one they are being mauled as well. “Enough of this dammit,” pleads Ross again, as the help from the back has at least isolated Owen and Davey, as there appearance alone saw the masked men dart off through the crowd. With the agents stepping between Shawn, Chyna, and Rude on the outside, HHH stands somewhat alone in the ring, when the crowd explodes amongst the chaos, when Dude Love appears from behind the broadcast position out of the crowd with a chair and belts the unsuspecting Helmsley. “All right, Dude Love, Dude Love is back and dammit, he wants a piece of Helmsley and these thugs’ asses,” cheerleads J.R., as the Dude wears out Helmsley with two shots before the “men in green” reappear and put an end to his grand return, taking him out and returning the favor with several chair shots. Rude, Chyna, HBK, the two masked men, and the slowly recovering Helmsley take turns pounding Foley before finally a security force hits the ring and stops the group just as they had set the ankle of the “Hardcore Legend” inside a chair in an attempt to injure him as they did at SummerSlam. A scene of complete chaos in the ring gives way to a final backstage shot as Raw goes off the air, when we see the dressing room door that Bret, Pillman, and Neidhart walked into being rattled from the inside by the three as they scream to be let out and it is obvious that someone had locked them in their from the outside at some point during that final bout.
Raw is War- September 18, 1997- Muncie, IN
Raw comes on the air and immediately, the music of Shawn Michaels hits. Michaels, Rude, Helmsley and Chyna stride to the ring, hamming it up and toying with the audience who greets them with a mixed reaction surprisingly. They hit the ring and HBK grabs a microphone.
Michaels: “So, two down and one to go and ol’ HBK will be the first ever Grand Salami champion in WWF history (He pauses and looks down and then makes eye contact with Rude, Chyna, and Helmsley, who each give a glance at his crotch and then Chyna shakes her head and points to Hunter who shrugs his shoulders)Well maybe not that grand of a salami, Hunter, but you know what I mean, my man. If I could get serious here though for just a minute, how stupid are you fans, how naïve is Commissioner Pyle, and who is possibly more ignorant than that old relic, Jerry Lawler, who I see is not with us here tonight (Looks to the announce table and it is J.R., Vince, and Honky again. Ross explains that the “King” was nursing his injuries from last week). Oh, golly gee, I wonder how that happened. Well, let me explain something to you all, and explain it loud and clear. In case you aren’t catching our drift, we are done with the dinosaurs. The stars of yesteryear who just can’t let go. The Jerry Lawlers, the Sgt. Slaughters, the Gorilla Monsoons, guys come on now. When it was your time back in the 1800’s, didn’t the old fossils move aside and let you have your moment in the sun? So, let last week be a warning to you all, move aside and let this fresh, new, Kliq take what is theirs, or just like the “King” found out, you may get crowned. While I am still on the subject of evolution, why don’t I get right back to my old buddy the “Hitman.” Hi, Bret (puts his face right in the camera and waves sarcastically) you see, a year and a half ago, Mr. Hero and I had a little Iron Man match at WrestleMania 12 and that was what we in the business call the passing of the torch, meaning that the tired old horse that has been running on top passes his spot off to the hungry young lion whose turn it is to run with the ball. In theory, this works well. However, Bret Hart after being outwrestled, outperformed, and for the most part embarrassed at the hands of the “Heartbreak Kid,” just couldn’t let go. It was and still is my time, Bret and it is your time to know your role and spot in this company and that is behind me. Bret cried and whined and ran my name down and sure enough, he got what he wanted thanks to the cowards running the show around here (Looks at McMahon over the ropes and clears his throat) getting all in a tizzy when Bret said he would “quit” and go down south to that other rasslin’ outfit that a couple of my old pals are busy runnin’ these days. (Again waves into the camera and throws the “Wolfpack” sign up) Well, I say you should’ve let the “Hitman” and his whining and crying go, and here is a news flash, my boys tell me that no one even wants him there anyhow. So, Bret he gets his way and rather than take his route of crying until I get my way, I take matters into my own hands as only HBK can. (Helmsley leans in and says in the mike, “Take matters into your own hands? You better not take them into your own hands too much, you’ll go blind.”) So, here is where we stand folks, I told you all this is on you and what you have seen so far with this revolution, well my friends, you ain’t seen nothing yet. We are getting bigger, we are growing stronger and we are taking over, and there ain’t a damn thing anyone can do about it. (Hands the microphone to Helmsley)
Helmsley: “Speaking of dinosaurs, (he steps between the ropes and walks to the commentary table. McMahon stands up, but Hunter tells him to sit back down) Whoa, there Vin-man, keep your pants on, you are not the dinosaur I speak of. (Walks in the face of the Honky Tonk Man) Listen here old timer, you got something to say to me or about me, why don’t you hop up on those blue suede shoes of yours and say it, okay pal. (Honky responds)
Honky: “Listen, I have no idea what you are talking about, but why don’t you get out of my face before I show you the way to the Heartbreak Hotel.”
Helmsley: “No idea, huh, must be the Alzheimer’s setting in grandpa, take a look and listen at this clip(On the TitanTron it shows the part in HHH’s match last week, where Honky disputed J.R. claiming that Hunter could be the ‘greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time.’) So, you are the greatest of all time there, sideburns? How do you figure you flabby little wimp? Because your sorry ass couldn’t get over unless they put a belt on your waist? How’d the rest of that career turn out there Mr. Rhythm and Blues, huh? Should I watch over my shoulder and make sure Peggy Sue doesn’t sneak up on me in your pink Cadillac?
Honky: “Look it, I don’t know what you want, but I am an announcer and I am here to do my job and that is it ok? Now how about you(HHH interrupts)
Helmsley: “No, how about you put your money where your mouth is and find yourself in the hospital like your old chubby hick buddy from down in Memphis, Lawler did last week? You are the greatest of all time (holds the I-C belt in Honky’s face)prove it, tonight. You and me old timer for your one last chance at glory, what do ya’ say?
Honky: (Looks around as the arena cheers wildly) “You know what, you loud mouth punk? Your on tonight, you put my Intercontinental belt on the line and the Honky Tonk Man will shake, rattle, and roll all over you until I add you to my list of greatest hits.”
Helmsley: (Laughs in his face) “Yeah, good one. Hey listen you cheap Vegas rip off artist, this isn’t 1987, ok pal, and even when it was, you were a complete joke. Tonight, you are gonna get hurt and you are gonna get put out to pasture like Monsoon did and like your pal, Lawler did. Then, no one can dispute that I am the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time and that you are a phony.” (Michaels music hits and Rude, Chyna, and HBK join Helmsley in mocking Honky Tonk around the announce table as Raw goes to its first commercial break.)
After break, we go to the ring, where our first match of the night pits the New Blackjacks in tag team action against D-Lo Brown and Kama. Paul Bearer accompanies the Blackjacks, while Marc Mero is in the corner of the Nation squad. The Blackjacks get the victory, when once again the issues between Faarooq and Rocky Maivia surface when Faarooq comes to ringside and shortly after Maivia does too. When opportunity arrives for Faarooq to sneak in a cheap shot, Rocky tries to beat him to it and the two wind up in a shoving match. Mero and Kama try to separate the two as D-Lo is distracted by the altercation. When Brown turns his attention back to the match he walks into a vicious lariat from Bradshaw and is pinned. After the match, Paul Bearer takes the microphone and again speaks at the Undertaker. He warns him that his brother, Kane will be here soon, but just as he starts to revisit the issues in the ‘Taker’s past, the lights go dark and we see the “Dead Man” on the TitanTron. He gives a simple, cryptic warning, first stating that he will “never fight his brother,” but goes on to warn that starting next week all members of the ‘Unholy Alliance’ will be “plucked off one by one, until I own each one of their souls and they all rest in peace.” After this, the lights come back on and Bearer gathers Windham and Bradshaw, telling them that they need to go and continue with “what they started last week.” Following this, we cut to the interview area, where Michael Cole is standing by with WWF Commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter. Cole questions Slaughter on the remarks of Bret Hart one week ago and on the show opening promo by HBK and Helmsley. Sarge responds and first explains that “Shawn Michaels and his pals are on thin ice and they had better be careful what they wish for.” He goes on to say that he has a huge announcement to make at next week’s Raw where he will introduce an entirely new concept for a match involving Michaels at “Badd Blood,” adding that his opponent will be a “man that still has a big score to settle with Michaels.” Moving on to address the words of the WWF Champion, he adds that “since Bret Hart wants to line up any American placed before him that he will be defending his title every week leading up to “Badd Blood” against a different American competitor. He explains that this week he will face a newcomer that has the “red, white , and blue” in his blood and he introduced the Patriot, who comes out and joins Slaughter. Lastly, the commissioner tells the audience that due to the controversial finishes between the two teams, that Billy Gunn and Jesse James will be defending the WWF Tag Team titles at Badd Blood against the Road Warriors. Slaughter and the Patriot salute the camera just before a commercial time out.
Next up, we see Bret Hart backstage and he is approached by Billy Gunn and Jesse James. The tag champs apologize for the mix up last week and tell Bret they had to leave the building after the mysterious attack they suffered at the end of their match. Bret seems very skeptical, but tells them they have one last chance, tonight. We then go to the ring for the semifinal bout in the European title tournament pitting the British Bulldog, who comes to the ring with Owen Hart against Sycho Sid, with Ken Shamrock and Paul Ellering. Bulldog gets the win and advances to the finals after a wild bout that sees not only Owen and Shamrock get involved, but the Road Warriors also interfere, only to be jumped by Gunn and James. This sets up a match between the Bulldog and Shawn Michaels at “One Night Only” in just two days. As the referee lost control with all the action, Gunn also swung the winning blow for Bulldog, bashing Sid over the skull with a steel pipe, allowing Davey to scoop him up and hit his running powerslam for the finish. Following this, we see Skull and 8-Ball in the back, talking about the attack on Chainz the week prior, moments into their chat, the New Blackjacks and Vader appear and jump the two. The D.O.A., fights valiantly, but are eventually taken apart and just as Chainz was one week earlier, dragged away by the group to the delight of Paul Bearer. Just before another break, we see Bret Hart walking and he is on his way to the ring.
After the commercials, we see Bret waiting in the ring, with a microphone. He addresses the audience.
Bret: “Okay, so our esteemed commissioner wants to answer my challenge with a cartoon character? The Patriot? Really? Who is my opponent next week? Captain America? Seriously, if that is the best that this lousy excuse for a country can come up with, then you are even worse off than I thought. I mean, come on now, how is this guy even in line for a title shot? Either way, it will be an absolute pleasure to beat his American butt all over this ring and break his spirit and then break his back when I make him submit to the sharp shooter. I got a crazy idea, once I caught my breath after laughing so hard at the opponent that was chosen and it was this. I will put the WWF title up against this obviously unworthy opponent, but, if I win, no, let’s make it more interesting. If I can’t beat this bum in five minutes or under, he can have the title. But if I do, then the “One Night Only” pay per view that is just two days away cannot be broadcast in any way shape or form for the ignorant fans here in America. No replays, no nothing. How’s that for a challenge, come on you idiots, chant your U-S-A. Well, with that out there and before we get started here, let me address one more item here, and that is Shawn Michaels. So, I am a dinosaur am I Shawn? Funny how easy it is to call someone names without looking at our track record here. You come out here with your degenerate friends and think you are some type of comedian all of a sudden? Outside of one fluke where you had four guys jump on me a few months back, I have beaten you just about every time we have ever fought, Shawn, or did you forget that. Oh, and you are going to talk about “passing the torch?” The biggest locker room cancer this company has ever seen is going to question who is putting over whom? Do, I need to remind you about that “smile that you lost” a few months back there, “Boy Toy?” Anyhow, you want to talk about taking out legends and call people dinosaurs and other animals like the disrespectful, arrogant, little man that you are, I got one for you. How about next week, you take on one half of the most legendary tag team in history, the original Hart Foundation? Not sure if I’d call him a dinosaur, but he does kind of resemble a big, nasty rhino, so I guess that is good enough, so let’s have Shawn Michaels next week here on Raw against Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. Unless of course you are afraid of dinosaurs, Shawn? I for one can’t wait to see big Jim beat the hell out of you just like I am about to do to this flag with feet in a few seconds here. So, let’s get this clown out here so I can put him out of his misery.”
Slaughter then walks to the ramp and personally introduces the Patriot. He agrees to Bret’s stipulation and tells him that whether he is the champion or not, his opponent at “One Night Only,” is a man that has a lot on his plate, but still wanted to make the trip to even a score with the “Hitman,” the Undertaker. After Bret argues briefly, the bell rings and Hart actually is in trouble early, with the Patriot using speed and a strong mat attack to frustrate the champion early. Eventually though, Hart simply proves too much for the challenger, taking control and working over the Patriot’s legs, softening him up and eventually making him give up to the sharpshooter at the four minute and twenty second mark of the match, well under the five minute time frame he offered up. The “Hitman” refuses to release the hold however, and has to be pried off the Patriot, making an example out of him and leaving him screaming in pain until he is put on a stretcher and wheeled out of the building. Before another commercial, we see agents Pat Patterson and Gerry Brisco in the back shaking their head as they watch the actions of Hart on a monitor. As they share their disgust, they are jumped by Michaels, Rude, Helmsley, and Chyna. The foursome viciously beats on the two legends, leaving them lying and as they walk away, Michaels mocks Patterson’s accent as he jokes with the others, who all get a hearty laugh.
Coming back from break, we go back to the ringside area, where Goldust comes to the ring with Paul Bearer. Goldust takes a microphone and spouts out about how he was the WWF Champion and how he beat the legendary Undertaker. He goes on to say that since he returned he has been misused and “lost in the shuffle.” He reminds everyone that he never used his rematch clause and notes that since he is an American born wrestler, he wants Commissioner Slaughter to grant him that rematch at Raw next week from Madison Square Garden. He then turn his attention to Paul Bearer and blames him for not getting him the shots that he did when he first joined the ‘Alliance,’ he calls out to Vader, Savio, and the New Blackjacks and brings to their attention that it seems lately that Bearer’s only focus has been on the Undertaker and now this new man, Kane that he has been speaking of. Bearer warns him to not go there and Goldust fires him on the spot, hurling him over the top rope. Just then Slaughter walks out and applauds him for “seeing the light.” Slaughter tells him that his “daddy, the American Dream, would be proud of him,” and grants him the match with the “Hitman” next week. As Slaughter walks away, Goldust’s opponent, Crush strides to the ring, but on his way out, Vader and Savio attack him. This prompts Goldust to charge up the aisle and help Crush, pounding on both of his now former ‘Alliance’ members and chasing them to the back. We then see Honky Tonk Man in the back. He walks by the pair of Patterson and Brisco being attended to and Slaughter approaches him and wishes him luck, saying, “Honky, do me a favor old friend. Take this maggot, scum Helmsley all the way to the…right here, Honky interrupts and sings the finish, “end of lonely street, to the Heartbreak Hotel.” The commissioner smiles and replies, “Exactly, show him you are the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time, and…Honky again interrupts and sings, “Don’t be cruel,” but Slaughter corrects him, “No, I want you to be cruel, I want you to be very cruel, and that my friend (Honky chimes in and the two finish the catch phrase together) is an order.” The show then cuts to another break, where we see another ad for the upcoming “Badd Blood” event.
After the break, we see Bret Hart, walking out of the dressing room of the tag team champs. He is waving and telling them “great job tonight guys,” before he says, “I am heading out of here now, you guys care to join me and the Foundation for a bite to eat?” We cannot here the response of Gunn and James, but “Hitman” then replies to whatever they said with, “Well, when you get done with whatever it is you need to do, feel free to join us, thanks again ,fellas, I knew you had it in you.” After this, Hunter Hearst Helmsley is introduced first, as always with Chyna at his side. The place actually erupts when the Honky Tonk Man’s music hits, and he wiggles his way to the ring for tonight’s main event.
Match- Intercontinental Championship Match- Champion- Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Chyna) vs. The Honky Tonk Man- The bell rings, and Honky quickly ducks a charging Helmsley and scores with a series of punches, blocking ones thrown by the I-C Champ in between each he lands. Helmsley then throws a wild and desperate roundhouse, that Honky ducks and follows by scooping Hunter up for an atomic drop. Chyna, flustered, jumps up on the apron and as she does, another wild swing and a miss by HHH results in a second atomic drop that sends the champ directly into his “bodyguard,” knocking her off the apron and to the floor. The crowd pops as Honky gets a microphone while Hunter goes to the outside to regroup. He wiggles his hips as he says, “Ohhhh, now I know you all came here to see me sing, and see me dance, and the Honky Tonk Man, he ain’t gonna disappoint you all, so if I could get somebody in the back to hit my number one hit song…” just then he is stopped as the returning Helmsley catches him with a chop block bringing him to his knees. The I-C Champ then goes on the offensive, absolutely dominating Honky Tonk. He viciously batters him with punches as he mounts him on the mat, and then whips him in and scores his high knee before doubling him over and spiking him with a pedigree. After a count of two though, Helmsley yanks him up and motions to the back. As Michaels and Rude come down the ramp, each wiggling their hips and with a guitar in their hand, mocking Hunter’s challenger, he blasts Honky with a second pedigree. Once again, at the count of two though, he yanks the now unconscious veteran up. The referee warns Helmsley to end the match and Hunter let’s go of Honky and punches the official out with one shot. He then scoops HTM up and drills him with a third pedigree, as HBK, Rude and Chyna, who has now picked up Honky’s guitar continue to mock the dance move of the Elvis- look alike. Rude and Chyna then scoop the now bleeding Honky off the mat, stand him up and hold his arms back in a scene reminiscent of the classic Saturday Night’s Main Event spot involving Honky Tonk and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. HBK gives another few wiggles and plays some air guitar before walloping the hapless man over the head with the guitar. Still being held up, Helmsley scoops another of the guitars and winds up for a second shot. He also blasts the instrument over his head and at this point, Commissioner Slaughter leads a charge from the dressing room, as he is waving members of the roster to the ring to chase the group off. Shamrock, Sid, Hawk, and Animal come first, and they run off HBK, Rude and Chyna, chasing them into the crowd, but being the “cerebral assassin” as he would some time later become known as, HHH, saw the rush coming and hid under the ring. After the commotion settled, he rolled out and taunted the crowd, signaling for yet another pedigree. “Damn it, what is this proving. That is a retired veteran of this sport. A man that has paid his dues, the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion ever,” pleads J.R. “This Helmsley is just a rotten and lousy human being, he has already given the man several….wait a minute (crowd goes nuts) it’s Mankind, Mankind, and he is wearing out Helmsley. I guess if the Dude couldn’t do it last week, than maybe another of Mrs. Foley’s baby boy’s alter ego’s sure as hell can.” Foley arrives and batters HHH as the crowd noise is now at a fever pitch. He slings him to the corner and drops him with his running knee before waiting for him to get up. When Hunter does, he walks right into the mandible claw, but, as Mankind backs him to the corner, pushing deeper on the hold, the two still masked, “men in green” appear. The first picks up the last guitar standing and spins Foley around, splintering the guitar over his head and leaving him lying. “Oh, come on, again?” asks Ross. “Who in the hell are these guys?”Raw goes off the air to the shot of the two masked men helping a dazed Helmsley to his feet with the bodies of Foley and the blood soaked Honky Tonk Man visible in the distance.
One Night Only- September 20, 1997- Birmingham, England
The pay per view offering, which is only available to the fans in Europe and Canada,(despite it being worked in the storyline with Bret, this was actually only available to the fans in these countries) begins with a video package highlighting the European title tournament that will culminate with the Shawn Michaels and British Bulldog match to crown a new champion. We also see a brief package highlighting the history between the Undertaker and WWF Champion, Bret Hart, before we go to ringside, where Jim Ross sits with Jim Cornette. Ross and Cornette explain that they will call the action tonight not only because of the injuries to Jerry Lawler and The Honky Tonk Man, but they also tell us that Vince McMahon did not join the crew on the overseas trip, as he was still in the U.S., making arrangements for what they describe as a “huge and improbable return on Raw tomorrow night.” They explain that Vince was visiting the with this returning star and the WWF Board of Directors on some technicalities of his returning and added that McMahon would be personally conducting an in ring interview with said superstar this Monday night at Madison Square Garden. They then explain that we will see several great matches on the night and they turn it over to WWF Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter who is on the TitanTron.
Slaughter: “Hello to all of our wonderful fans across Europe and in Canada, we are so happy to have you here with us for “One Night Only.” Now, as I am sure you have seen recently on Raw, there have been many issues brewing with several groups of superstars here in the World Wrestling Federation, so in addition to our double main event here tonight, I will be naming five other matches to take place tonight. The first match will be a prelude to the upcoming “In Your House” pay per view to take place on October 5, as the members of opposing tag teams that will do battle there will face of tonight in singles competition. In our first bout, Owen Hart will battle Sycho Sid. Our second contest is a tag match that comes about as a result of what we saw transpire this past week on Raw between Goldust and Paul Bearer. Given the participants on Monday night, I have decided that the teams in this bout will be Goldust and Crush against Vader and Savio Vega. In our third match tonight, we will see the WWF tag Team Champions, Billy Gunn and Jesse James defend their titles against The New Blackjacks and the fourth will also be a title bout, with the Intercontinental Champion, Hunter Hearst Helmsley going one on one with Hart Foundation member, Brian Pillman. In our other matchup tonight will feature “The World’s Most Dangerous Man,’ Ken Shamrock against WWF newcomer, The Patriot. Now that we have our fantastic night of action laid out for all of you, I just wanted to thank you all for making the WWF the number one sports entertainment organization in the country, but also all around the globe. Now, let’s get right down to our first exciting match, I want for each of you, the great fans of the WWF to have a once in a lifetime experience here tonight, and that’s an order.”
Following the commissioner’s address, the shot goes backstage, where someone had come across the Patriot, still in his street clothes, but already masked, out cold and appearing to be injured in the back. Paramedics are rushed to his side and they pull his mask off and set it aside with the bag he was wheeling in as they begin trying to stabilize his neck and put him on a stretcher. After this, we go to the ring for the Owen Hart and Sycho Sid match. Owen is accompanied by Jim Neidhart for the matchup, while Ken Shamrock sits in the corner of the Sycho. Owen scores the tainted win in this one after the “Anvil” trips up Sid and when he turns his attention, Hart rolls him up and holds him for a three count with added leverage from the ropes. Sid and Shamrock clean house after the pin, with Sid chokeslamming and powerbombing Owen, as Shamrock trapped Neidhart in the ankle lock on the floor.
Next up, we go to the interview area, where Kevin Kelly is standing by with the Undertaker. With a serious look on his face, the Undertaker stares down Kelly and intimidates the announcer to the point that he is shaking in fear and simply hands over the microphone.
Undertaker: “Paul Bearer, this is what you wanted. You wanted to dig through people’s closets and open up old wounds? Well, you and your boys are going to learn a whole new meaning of the term “opening wounds.” I stand by the fact that if you really are being truthful and my brother, Kane, is coming here, there is no way in hell that I will fight him, but I will however take everything that you have and make you feel the pain that I have. Starting tonight, I don’t give a damn about anything other than inflicting pain and hurt on anyone placed before me. Bret Hart, I don’t give a damn about your WWF title, but you are the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, son. As for your group of thugs, Paul, I will be collecting each of their souls and I don’t give a damn if the rest in peace, but you can rest assured that I will show them to their resting places and along the way bring them through the fiery depths of hell, and once they are out of the way, I am coming for you, fat boy. Oh and speaking of hell, Shawn Michaels, with all you have cost me over the past few months, don’t think I don’t have something in store for you come “Badd Blood.’ You see, that new concept that the Commissioner spoke of Monday night, it was my idea, and it will bring to light a whole new meaning of the word hell.” (‘Taker rolls his eyes back in his head and the camera zooms out. We then get a quick shot in the ‘Unholy Alliance’ locker room, where all of the members argue with Bearer, the argument ends with Vader claiming, “Man, maybe Dustin was right about you the other night.”)
Heading back to the ring, we get the intros for the Goldust/Crush vs. Vader/Savio Vega tag team bout. The match sees both sides go back and forth with the advantage, as Goldust and Crush start quickly, but once Savio tags in Vader, the big man overpowers Goldust much to the delight of his manager, Paul Bearer. In a bizarre ending, the lights again go down and the dim red lighting returns as Goldust is the recipient of what one would think is an attack by the man Bearer has claimed to be Kane. The lights only turn on momentarily, as we see Goldust down, and then they cut again. This time when they go back on, Vader and Savio are both out on the mat and Crush is the only man standing and scores the pinfall as he covers Vega. Leaving no mistake as to who it was, when the lights did return, the Undertaker was standing directly behind Paul Bearer, who sprinted away in fear as the “Dead Man” methodically and slowly stalked him back toward the backstage area.
After J.R. and Cornette discuss and review that bout, we see Bret Hart banging on the door of Billy Gunn and Jesse James. After a long delay, they finally answer the door, and Gunn lets Bret in. As he enters, we can see James hustling to stuff some type of clothing into his gear bag. Bret asks them if they are “up to the task tonight?” James stutters at first but then replies, “Heck, yeah we are up for the task Bret, you know us, we are the WWF Tag Team champions and we are still the hottest free agent team in the company today.’ Bret responds, smiling while saying, “Well, maybe you are not gonna be free agents for too much longer, eh boys?” Gunn with a stern look on his face says, “well, no, I suppose maybe we will not be free agents too much longer.” All three nod at each other and a smile comes over each of their faces. Bret exits, and the smiles on the faces of the tag champs turns to a smirk.
Following this, we head right back to the ring for the Intercontinental Title Match. Hunter Hearst Helmsley comes to the ring first with Chyna, and then Brian Pillman comes out, accompanied by Jim Neidhart. Immediately as they head from behind the curtain, the “Anvil” is jumped by HBK and Rick Rude. Pillman tries to help, but he too is blindsided, as Chyna sneaks up on him. She then drags him to the ring for the bout to start, as Michaels and Rude finish of what will be Shawn’s opponent on Monday night and stay at ringside. Helmsley dominates at first, due to the numbers game, prompting Commissioner Slaughter to appear and force all three of HHH’s stable mates back to the dressing room. Pillman fights back valiantly after this and seems for a moment to have the title won, before a collision between Helmsley and the official leaves there no one to place a three count on the I-C Champ after Pillman has hit a missile dropkick. After becoming frustrated and slapping his own hand to the mat as the wild crowd counted along, reaching as high as a five count, Pillman went to revive the ref. With the opening and Pillman’s inability to wake the official, Helmsley sneaks behind, and turns him, scores a boot to the stomach and a pedigree. Just then, from the crowd, one of the “men in green” appears, chair in hand. Hunter stands and slaps a high five with the masked attacker, motioning for him to have at Pillman. But, instead, the attacker waffles Helmsley with the chair, laying him out cold. “What in the hell?” asks a confused Ross at ringside, before the attacker peels the mask off and it is Mick Foley. “It’s Foley, Foley got Helmsley again, and there isn’t a damn thing his degenerate, yellow buddies can do about it. Pillman is gonna win this thing,” shouts J.R. Foley, pulls Pillman on top and revives the referee, but as he does, the actual two “men in green” appear and lay Pillman to waste, putting Hunter on top instead for the one, two, three. Foley tries to enter again, but the two also put the “Hardcore Legend” down with multiple chair shots and then Helmsley spikes him with a pedigree on a chair, busting him wide open. The two masked men raise Helmsley’s hands in a brief celebration before they once again disappear like thieves in the night.
Next we go again to the interview station, where Kevin Kelly is waiting with Shawn Michaels, Rick Rude, and Chyna, who are all laughing hysterically. Shawn stops him before he can speak and yanks the microphone from him, pushing him away.
Michaels: “Hey, commish, good one getting us out of there. Way to really show us, who is in charge. (Chyna and Rude double over in laughter) Come on, Sarge, you think we didn’t have something up our sleeves and waiting for you old timer. Oh, and hey, does a “Hardcore Legend” count as a legend, because if it does, add that slob Foley to the list with Lawler, Monsoon, Patterson, Brisco, Honky Tonk Man, and the rest of the geriatric wonders on the shelf around here courtesy of us, what did Bret and J.R. call us? Degenerates? Yeah, I guess that is what we are just a bunch of degenerates. What is that old saying Rick? Sticks and stones may break our bones, but, eh never mind, we don’t care, we kind of like that name actually. Anyhow, a couple things, Undertaker, come on big fella, can’t we all just get along here, you know my shots on you were just an accident, and either way, you and your ‘depths of hell’ balonie, save it for one of your brain dead ‘creatures of the night,’ because at Badd Blood, no matter what you throw my way, we all know when its main event time that Shawn Michaels is the one and only show stopper. Speaking of show stoppers, tonight, HBK becomes the first ever Grand Slam champion and he does it against Bret Hart’s tea sippin’ brother in law, the British Bulldog, right in front of his wife, Diana and the rest of his lousy, crooked toothed family. Hey, Rick, maybe you can dust of the ‘Rude Awakening’ and how did it used to go? Oh yeah, you can dust of the ‘Rude Awakening’ and show Diana Hart Smith what it is like when these ‘Birmingham sweat hogs keep the noise down so Mrs. Bulldog can see what it is like to be with a real sexy man.’(Rude blows a kiss at the camera) So, Bulldog, tonight, it will be almost as fun beating you in front of your countrymen as it has been erasing the dinosaurs from the WWF one by one.”
The show then returns to the ring for the Ken Shamrock versus the Patriot bout. The announcers replay the footage of the injured Patriot and question as to whether the new comer will be able to compete. But, when his music hits, the Patriot does stride to the ring. Just as he does though, the WWF Tag Champs, Billy Gunn and Jesse James race past the Patriot and charge Shamrock. He fights the two off momentarily, before they get an upper hand and hold his arms back before the Patriot grabs the timekeepers bell and lays out the “World’s Most Dangerous Man” with a brutal blow. Hawk and Animal charge in his defense and chase off Gunn and James, as the referee has thrown the match out and ruled it a disqualification win for Shamrock. The Patriot continues to assault the fallen Shamrock, who has blood pouring out of his mouth, before spinning him into a sharpshooter and pulling off his mask to reveal it is not actually the Patriot, but Owen Hart under the mask. Seeing this, Sycho Sid charges and chases off Owen, tending to his fallen friend. Following this, we get a recap of the recent events on Raw and the buildup to Badd Blood. The Michaels and Undertaker possibilities are discussed, as are the Bret Hart open challenge to America and finally the Tag Title bout scheduled between Gunn and James and the Road Warriors. Following this we go back to ringside for tonight’s tag title match between the champs and the New Blackjacks. The Gunn/James team takes a brutal beating in this one, with the Blackjacks simply overpowering and dominating them throughout. Once again though, and to the horror of Paul Bearer, the Undertaker strides slowly to the ring just when it seemed Windham would score the win and bring the titles to his team after a superplex. The referee counted two before the Undertaker entered and hoisted him up by the back of his pants, shifted him over and then drove him to the mat with a chokeslam, getting Gunn and James disqualified, but allowing them to keep their titles. He then shook of the attacking Blackjacks, planted both with a chokeslam and the hit each of the two with a tombstone and Bearer shook in fear on the outside. Once again, the “Dead Man” slowly stalked after his fleeing former manager at the bout’s conclusion. Before getting all the way to the back, the “Phenom” turned and came back to the ring. Pulled a ringside worker up out of his seat and one punched him to the ground, tearing a microphone from him. He walked into the ring and called out the WWF Champion, Bret Hart and said “hell, we are next anyhow and I’m just getting warmed up. Come take that beating you got coming to ya’, ‘Hitman.’”
Hart’s music hits and he obliges coming out and entering for one half of the double main event.
***Match- WWF Championship Match- Champion, Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. The Undertaker-*** WWF World Champion Bret Hart defeated the Undertaker via disqualification at 28:35 when the challenger failed to stop beating on Hart after the champion became entangled in the ropes head-first***(1) Hart took a horrific beating for almost this entire bout. Of note, during the bout, we kept seeing a split screen, where Paul Bearer spoke with someone who we could not see on camera. He kept saying, “Almost, almost, when the time is right. I know that you want him, but just wait for when the time is right.” In the last split screen shot after this was again repeated, Bearer laughed in an evil manner as we could also hear a deep and almost robotic sounding laugh as well.
After the WWF title bout, we again head to the back, where Kevin Kelly finally gets to interview someone, as the British Bulldog stands by with his wife, Diana, his mother, and his sister, who is ill and being treated for cancer.
Kelly: “British Bulldog, this is a homecoming of sorts for you. How fitting would it be for you, the inaugural European Champion to reclaim that title right here in your backyard with your lovely wife, beautiful mother, and your inspirational sister on hand to root you on?”
Bulldog: “You know, Kevin, it would be the ultimate. To this point, my match at Wembley Stadium with Bret is probably my crowning achievement, especially being in front of all my countrymen. But this one, this would be so special. I have never been more ready for a match or more inspired to get a big victory in my entire career, so Shawn Michaels, he can bring all the help he wants, because tonight the British Bulldog has the support of my wife, Diana, and my wonderful mother, plus my own personal hero, my sister. I am going to actually take this opportunity right now to dedicate my win and recapturing of the European Championship to all three of the most important ladies in the life of the British Bulldog, and with them on my side, there is no chance of me losing.”
Returning to the ring, Michaels’ music hits and Helmsley, Chyna, and Rude accompany him. The Bulldog then comes out and the capacity crowd goes berserk for their hero.
***Match- European Title Tournament Finals- the British Bulldog vs. Shawn Michaels (with Rick Rude, Chyna, and Hunter Hearst Helmsley- Shawn Michaels defeated Davey Boy Smith to win the European title at 22:53 when the referee stopped the match as the challenger had a figure-4 applied, with an illegal assist from Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Rick Rude, and Chyna; several minutes prior to the finish, the Bulldog injured his ankle while attempting the powerslam outside the ring and suffered the superkick and Pedigree on the floor; after the match, Bret and Owen Hart made the save for the Bulldog and Diana Smith against Michaels, Helmsley, Rude, and Chyna; the Bulldog’s wife, mother, and sister – who was being treated for cancer at the time – all sat ringside for the bout***(2) On an interesting and confusing note, the two “men in green” were seen at ringside during this bout, in the front row, directly behind the timekeeper. They sat for the entire bout with their arms folded, and never actually got involved. Watching the two intently, J.R. and Cornette questioned their being there throughout the bout. At about the eighteen minute mark. They leaned over and had words with the timekeeper, who seemed a bit put off by them getting in his ear. After the match was stopped, he again shot a look behind him for the two, but they were seen walking away through the crowd. The final shot of the pay per view moved from the victorious foursome in the ring celebrating to these two masked men leaving, to a shot at the total opposite side of the venue, where there was another “Man in Green” way up in the cheap seats, slowly applauding and nodding in approval.
Raw is War- September 22, 1997- New York, NY
The highly anticipated return of the WWF to Madison Square Garden began with a video montage of classic moments of days gone by at the “World’s Most Famous Arena.” The announce team of Jim Ross, Vince McMahon, and a returning Jerry Lawler sat at ringside and in the opening segment they ran down the different matches signed for tonight, noting that WWF Champion, Bret Hart will face Goldust, Shawn Michaels is set to go one on one with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Owen Hart and the British Bulldogs will face off against the Road Warriors and in a match just signed by WWF Commissioner Sgt. Slaughter, Hunter Hearst Helmsley will battle in a non-title “Street Fight” against Dude Love. They then explain that right now, Vince McMahon will head into the ring for an interview that has promised the return of a major star to the WWF.
McMahon: “Hello, New York City, and welcome everyone to Monday Night Raw. I come before you here to announce the first step in a major comeback here in the WWF. This is a man who just a short month and a half ago faced a serious neck and spinal injury and the real possibility of never stepping foot in a wrestling ring ever again. However, through his hard work and dedication, he is here tonight and although in speaking with the WWF Board of Directors, we cannot in good faith allow him to compete as of yet, we are all extremely happy to have him back. So, without further ado, Madison Square garden, I give you, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.” (Austin’s music hits and the place goes bonkers. J.R. is ecstatic at ringside as well. Austin comes in and hits each side of the ring and then stops to flip McMahon the bird before yanking the microphone from him. McMahon goes from real happy to looking very nervous.)
Austin: “They said it couldn’t be done. The doctors told “Stone Cold” Steve Austin that he was done, he was finished, that he would never wrestle again. But ehhh, ehhh, that just ain’t how I do things. You see when I say I am the toughest S.O.B. in this company, it ain’t some catch phrase, I am one ornery bad man. So, with all due respect Vince, “Stone Cold” is back tonight and he didn’t come here to talk, he came here to whip some ass, and he has one certain ass in mind, which belongs to the bastard that broke my damn neck, Owen Hart, so you need to make that happen.”
McMahon: “Well Mr. Austin, with all due respect to you, we, the officials at the WWF cannot in good faith allow you to compete yet, but I do want to say that it is great to have you back, and once you are ready physically, I can guarantee you that match with Owen Hart.”(McMahon sticks his hand out to shake Austin’s, Austin does not shake)
Austin: “Can’t under good faith? Not gonna compete? Hang on here Vince, maybe I didn’t introduce myself. My name is “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and in case you forgot me or can’t remember how I operate, let me refresh your memory. I don’t give a rat’s ass what you say or do, I do exactly what I want and I do it when I want, and tonight what I want is Owen Hart’s little Canadian hide. So, here is the deal, you can either book that match for tonight, or I will do things my way.”
McMahon: “Again, with all due respect, Steve, Owen Hart is already involved in a match tonight, so even if I wanted to, I couldn’t sign that match. (He again tries to shake Austin’s hand, to no response) Either way, your time will come, you are an inspiration and you will get exactly what you… (Austin interrupts)
Austin: Stop! My time, I’m an inspiration, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You can try and kiss my ass all you want, but I am getting my hands on Owen Hart tonight and that’s all I got to say about that. You see, we could’ve done this the easy way, but you chose the hard way, Vince. So, now, not only am I gonna get Owen, but now, I am gonna make your life a living hell here tonight. Heck, I am gonna make your like a living hell every night, you silly bastard, and that’s the bottom line, ‘cause Stone Cold said so.” (McMahon now looks angry, but is keeping his composure. He again offers his hand for a shake, but when he does, Austin grabs it, pulls him in and catches a boot to his guts and floors McMahon with a stunner as the crowd goes completely nuts. This segment heads right to a commercial break.
After the pause, it is only Ross and Lawler at the broadcast table and they recap the shocking site of the “boss” getting hit with a stunner. Going to the ring, we see Vader and Savio Vega ready for a tag bout with Crush and Goldust in a rematch from “One Night Only.” The announcers explain what happened, but stick to the Bret storyline that won’t allow them to show it. The match ends in complete chaos, as The New Blackjacks stride to ringside and when the four match participant are brawling about, they jump in and hop on both Vader and Savio as Bearer eggs them on. The confused official rules the bout a no contest, when Windham and Bradshaw then turn their attack to Goldust. Skull, 8-Ball, and Chainz come from the back, as Crush steps in front of the Blackjacks, stopping their attack on Goldust, but then in a shocking turn, the four members of D.O.A. join Windham and Bradshaw in continuing to assault Goldust, Savio, and Vader. Paul Bearer cheers them on and embraces the D.O.A. guys, who have obviously taken the spots previously occupied by Vader, Goldust, and Savio in the ‘Unholy Alliance.” As they continue to gloat, the Undertaker walks down the ramp with a lead pipe in his hand. All four D.O.A. guys are the first to charge and one by one he belts them with the pipe. The Blackjacks then charge and they meet the same fate, leaving a frustrated and scared Bearer again running away as the “Dead Man” slowly walked behind him in pursuit. After getting about half way to the back, ‘Taker turns back to the ring and grabs a microphone. He calls for Commissioner Slaughter to join him and explain to the in house crowd and viewers at home the “new concept” that was spoke of for the Michaels/’Taker match at Badd Blood. The Commissioner points the attention of the crowd to the TitanTron, where we see blueprints of what appears to be an enormous Steel Cage. Slaughter then asks the Undertaker if this was what he had wanted, and he is quick to say yes. Slaughter then asks the Undertaker what such a structure and such a match might be called and the Undertaker finishes the segment looking deep into the camera and answering that “At Badd Blood,” Shawn Michaels, I told you I was gonna take you straight to hell. That is exactly what is going to happen when we step in this structure you just saw in the first ever match of its kind that I like to call “Hell in a Cell.” After this the show goes to a commercial.
We come back from break and see the Nation all arguing amongst each other in the back. As they are doing this, Commissioner Slaughter walks by and raises his voice until they stop. He explains that he is sick of their bickering and asks “who the heck is the leader of this mess?” The five all argue this point again and Slaughter cuts them off and tells them that they will settle that question once and for all at Badd Blood, when the five of them will take part in a blind draw, elimination gauntlet match, with the final man standing being the group’s leader. They all seem confused and as he walks away they continue arguing amongst one another. Following Slaughter, we then see Jim Neidhart and Brian Pillman approach him. They tell him they had a great idea and he was the man to put it into play. A skeptical Slaughter hears them out as Pillman pleads, “I had the Intercontinental Title won at “One Night Only,” if not for those damn masked guys, so how about once and for all we put it on the line at Badd Blood. Me and the “Anvil” will put my hair and his beard up against the masks of the “Men in Green” in a Hair vs. Masks tag match, what do you say?” Slaughter rubs his chin for a second and replies, “Gentleman, we have a deal.” Shooting back to ringside, we see the team of Owen Hart and the British Bulldog striding to the ring with a purpose, next, the Garden crowd erupts as hawk, Animal, and Paul Ellering make their way to the ring. On a split screen, we see Bret Hart once again chatting with the Tag Team Champs, Billy Gunn and Jesse James. “Here we go, guys, this time it not only helps the Foundation but it helps you, right,” offers Bret. “Oh yeah, “Hitman,” Gunn fires back, “this time it is a win-win.” The screen goes back to one and the two teams tangle in a fantastic tag match. The bout ends in wild fashion with the Road Warriors getting the victory when Gunn and James first interfere and attack the Warriors when they seemed about ready to put away their opponents. This brings out Shamrock and Sid, and the teams square off with their given opposition at Badd Blood, brawling about the Garden as the official tries to restore some order. Owen is the only one to slide free and he tries to get the ref to count the legal man, Hawk out, but before he does, the MSG crowd erupts as “Stone Cold” appears and drops Hart with a stunner. Hawk then hurries back in the ring and gets the pin. Austin takes a brief second to flip McMahon off at the broadcast table before he sneaks up on each of the men brawling about and methodically lays out all of them (Bulldog, Hawk, Animal, Gunn, James, Sid, and Shamrock) with stunners. The crowd goes absolutely crazy with each one as he stalked around behind each and McMahon grows increasingly mad on commentary. Again, before leaving, the “Rattlesnake” flips the “boss” another two fingered salute and the show goes to another commercial.
Upon returning, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna come to the ring and then when the music of Dude Love hits, he appears instead on the TitanTron. Much like he did before SummerSlam, Dude backs out of the bout and brings in Mankind in a surreal segment seeing Foley somewhat interviewing himself. This time though, Mankind also backs out and the New York faithful goes nuts again, when the two Foley personas give way to the WWF debut of Cactus Jack for this no holds barred non-title contest.
***Match- Non-Title “Street Fight”- Intercontinental Champion, Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Chyna) vs. Cactus Jack***- Cactus Jack (sub. for Dude Love) pinned Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna) in a streetfight at 13:40 following a piledriver through a wooden table; before the match, Jerry Lawler spoke with Rhonda Shear, of USA Up All Night, who sat ringside for the show; prior to the contest, Dude Love appeared on the Titantron, saying that streetfights just weren’t his thing; after inviting out Mankind as a possible substitute, Mankind said that he had an idea for the perfect replacement – Cactus Jack (Cactus’ surprise debut)***(4)
After another commercial break, we see Shawn Michaels and Rick Rude standing by at the interview area with Dok Hendrix.
Hendrix: “Well guys, it would seem that Commissioner Slaughter has gotten the better of you tonight, as your friend, Hunter Hearst Helmsley was just defeated in the surprise debut of Cactus Jack, a match has been signed for Badd Blood that could see your masked friends have to reveal themselves and most importantly to you Shawn Michaels, you will have to face an angry and demonic Undertaker in a huge cage like structure that he has been calling “Hell in a Cell.” For the first time since your group has debuted, it seems the cards are stacked against you guys, wouldn’t it?”
Michaels: “You just don’t get it do you, Hendrix? Or should I call you Michael? See, Hunter will be fine, and our boys will take care of those Hart Foundation lackeys at the PPV. As for “Hell in a Cell,” it sounds to me like another match for the HBK to call his own. If it is exciting and thrilling and fresh, that is what I am all about, Mr. Hayes. Tonight, Bret Hart played match maker and I got his big, idiot buddy, the “Anvil,” which will be nothing more than a squash match and then maybe, I can get the Canadian coward, the “Hitman” to give me a crack at what is rightfully mine. I am the new European Champion and the only man to ever hold all four WWF Championships, so the way I see it, it should be me and not Bret Hart calling the shots around here. Now, how about you keep your nose out of our business and tell that stupid ponytail you have that 1984 and ‘Bam Bam’ and Buddy Jack called and they you to bring it back to them down on Badstreet, U.S.A. oh yeah , speaking of the Freebirds, Michael, I would say that they would be considered legends, right Rick? (Rude nods) To some, they may be considered dinosaurs, right Rick? (Again, Rude nods) Oh yeah, Michael, one more thing, (The two masked “men in green” appear behind Hendrix and lay him out then the four assault him) Oh yeah, P.S., that’s what we do to the so called legends.
As we get ready for the HBK/Anvil bout, Neidhart is the first to stride out with Pillman in tow. Before they even get down the ramp, the masked men take them out with chairs as Michaels and Rude slowly come out, laughing. This prompts Bret to storm from the back with a chair of his own and the masked men run off. However, when he turns, Michaels hits the WWF Champion with “Sweet Chin Music” and leaves him lying right next to Pillman and Neidhart before the show goes to another commercial with J.R. questioning whether Bret will be ok for his match with Goldust coming up next.
It’s main event time when we return, and Goldust is the first to be introduced. Answering J.R.’s questioning, Bret then comes out to a mixed reaction, as he has always remained dear to the NY crowd.
***Match- WWF Championship Match- WWF Champion, Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Goldust***- WWF World Champion Bret Hart defeated Goldust via submission with the Sharpshooter at 12:50 in a title match after grabbing Goldust’s foot as Goldust held it in the air to block a top rope elbow; after the match, Shawn Michaels – who appeared mid-way through the bout – and Triple H attacked Bret, with Davey Boy Smith, Owen Hart, and Rick Rude then coming out and joining in the bawl; moments later, the Undertaker appeared, helped clear the ring.*** (5) With the Undertaker obviously coming out to get at HBK, he clears the ring of everyone except himself, Bret and HBK. He batters both of them and readies for a double chokeslam, when again the place comes unglued as Austin returns. He charges and lays out all three with stunners, as McMahon now furious comes out of his seat and has uniformed police come into the ring and arrest and handcuff Austin and lead him out of the Garden to a raucous ovation as Raw goes off the air.
After the show and behind the scenes at this Raw, Vince McMahon seeks out Bret Hart. He tells him that they need to have a very important conversation. Thinking nothing of it, Bret showers and then makes his way to Vince’s makeshift office backstage at MSG. He sits down and asks what is going on.
McMahon: “Bret, there is no easy way to say this, so I am just going to come right out and say it. Our company is in dire straits financially and we are in serious danger of being run out of business by Turner. This is so hard for me to say because I have always saw you as almost like a son and I appreciate all the great work you have done for me, but I am going to have to break the 20 year deal I signed with you. I just cannot afford it. (A stunned Hart is nearly speechless) This is all I have been thinking about all week since we got our financial reports, and it is killing me. But, I don’t want this to end in a bad way, there is too many good memories there, so I have been putting my head together with two other guys you know very well and I think we have come up with an idea that will see everybody win. You, me, and the WWF. Now, I need your input here, but make no mistake about it, I want this to play out however you envision it, but once we weigh our options, I need you to wrap your head around this idea. I know this is a lot to take in right now, springing this on you, but we do have some time and the one thing that I need you to promise me because it is so crucial to this thing working how we have planned is that not a word that is spoken between us about this is told to anyone else…….(Once again, as to not give away the ending of the story and to keep what you are reading for the most part as strictly part of the “TV show,” the remainder of this conversation will be unveiled in the bonus “conclusion” chapter (Part XI) of this story.)
This marks the end of Part IX of our tale. Coming off a huge Raw from Madison Square Garden, “Badd Blood” is shaping up to be a huge card with the first ever “Hell in a Cell” and a mystery American still yet to be named as Bret Hart’s opponent for the WWF Championship. In Part X, our second to last chapter, the WWF will be struck with tragedy and have to figure out how to “play through pain” and adhere to the policy of “the show must go on.” “Stone Cold” has returned with a vengeance and so has Mick Foley, while the Undertaker’s inevitable meeting with his “brother” looms large on the horizon as well. Most importantly to answering where the entire story will finally play out, what is the “master plan” of Vince McMahon that he is readying to tell the “Hitman” about after breaking the news of having to go back on his contract? How will Bret react to it, and who are the “others” on board with the plan? All these questions will definitely be answered as we enter our final two chapters and prepare for the big payoff to our longstanding head scratcher, “What if Shawn Michaels never lost his smile?”
***As stated in the intro to this part, several of the matches in this part played out as they actually did in WWF. These noted instances in this story were recalled as told by the website, thehistoryofwwe.com . The actual dates and events these events took place at are listed below, for a good feel on how these matches and the company at this point in time were playing out (and to give this story a more realistic feel), I would suggest, if you have the time, look these up on YouTube and give them a look while moving along here.***
1)-One Night Only, September 20, 1997
2)-One Night Only, September 20, 1997
3) Raw is War, September 22, 1997
4) Raw is War, September 22, 1997