Rewriting the Book
By CG Scum
What if Shawn Michaels never “lost his smile” or forfeited the WWF Title in February of 1997?
Moving along into the homestretch of our story, we are coming off the sizzling event that was SummerSlam with Bret “The Hitman” Hart leaving the big event as the WWF Champion in controversial fashion. Both Bret and his rival, Shawn Michaels mistakenly walloped the Undertaker with chair shots in the past week and one can only imagine that the “Dead Man” will be out for revenge. This is not the only controversy surrounding the ‘Taker, however, as the situation between he and Paul Bearer continues to get more confusing by the week. Getting back to HBK, he was also revealed as the leader of the masked men that have been wreaking havoc across the WWF landscape over the course of the past several months but yet the question remains, who are the others under these hoods? Also, WWF President Gorilla Monsoon has announced his resignation and has promised a big announcement as his swan song, what will the ramifications of these be? All of these questions in addition to many more concerning the entire WWF roster at a point where they continue to gain steam and momentum heading into the “Attitude Era” will become that much closer to being answered as we continue to ponder, “What if Shawn Michaels never “lost his smile” or forfeited the WWF Title in February of 1997?”
Raw is War- August 4, 1997- Bethlehem, PA
Starting out with the lead in music and video, Raw comes on the air and immediately goes to the ring, where WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon waits with a microphone in his hand. Standing beside him, still in a neck brace is the owner of the WWF, Vince McMahon.
Monsoon: “Hello, everyone and welcome to Raw is War. As I stated last week, tonight will be my very last night as President of the World Wrestling Federation and before I get going I want to personally thank each and every one of you, the fans out here for making all the trials and tribulations of holding a position such as this worth every minute of it. I will miss the action, I will miss the bonds and friendships I have made, but most of all, I will miss you, the great fans of the WWF. That being said, I am still in charge for the remainder of this two hour broadcast, so at this point I would like to get down to the business at hand. Before I get on to my big announcement, my parting gift to all of you, I first bring you some unfortunate news. Last night at SummerSlam, we crowned a new WWF Champion, in Bret Hart, but we also saw the Intercontinental and European Titles change hands, too. I regret to inform you that both the new Intercontinental Champion, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the new European Champion, Mankind suffered serious injuries that will not allow them to compete and defend their titles within the given 30 day window that is mandatory. Austin suffered severe neck damage and Mankind was diagnosed with a fractured ankle following each of their victories. Adding to an already difficult situation, Austin and Dude Love, the alter ego of Mick Foley, much like Mankind are our current WWF Tag Team Champions and thus, those titles will also not be able to be defended in the allotted time period. So, after much deliberation, I feel there is no choice but to declare all three of these championships vacant. While it is unfortunate that neither Austin nor Foley can defend said titles, I think you all will be very pleased and excited to hear my plan to rectify these vacancies. Beginning tonight on Raw, there will be three tournaments starting to determine who will be the new holders of each of these three championships. They opening round of each will take place on alternating weeks here on Raw, with the Tag Title tournament starting tonight, the Intercontinental beginning next week, and the first round of the European title tournament beginning the following week on Raw and at our next “In Your House’ pay per view offering. Eight men will be entered in both the Intercontinental and European title tournaments, while eight teams will battle it out for the tag team gold as well. The semifinals and finals of both the Intercontinental and Tag Team tournaments will also take place at our next “In Your House” pay per view spectacular, “Ground Zero,” while the European title tournament finals will be held aptly enough overseas, in Birmingham, England at an exclusive British television pay per view event coming up next month, “One Night Only.” Again, we have decided that this will be the most fair and unbiased way of filling these vacancies and it should bring some exciting and spirited competition to the ring for you, the fans to enjoy. Now with that mess out of the way, it is on to my farewell gift to all of you. Last week here on Raw, we saw at the end of the contract signing between the Undertaker and Bret Hart that Shawn Michaels was unmasked and revealed as the head of this group of thugs that have been disrupting matches here in the WWF for the past few months. The remainder of this cowardly group that has caused injuries to not only Mr. Vince McMahon on two occasions and the legendary Stu Hart, but also the injury that has forced me into retirement. So, as my parting gift to you, tonight on Raw is War, our main event will be an eight man tag team match. On one side of the ring, you will have Shawn Michaels and his three partners will be none other than his masked stooges. Now, if Michaels cannot produce these partners, just as was the case at SummerSlam, he will be immediately terminated from his WWF contract. As an added stipulation, if the Michaels team loses the match, the masked partners will be forced to unmask and reveal themselves to the world here tonight on Raw. Once again, much like I just noted, if this team does lose and they do not unmask, Mr. Michaels will be hitting the bricks, as he will be fired. Oh, I almost forgot, the opponents for this team in our main event this evening will be the new WWF champion, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, his brother, Owen Hart, the British Bulldog, and the man who was a victim of circumstance and was cost the WWF title by none other than Shawn Michaels last night at SummerSlam, the Undertaker. Once again, thank you for all the memories, thank you Vince, (Shakes McMahon’s hand)and I hope you all enjoy the rest of the show tonight. (Monsoon steps aside and hands the microphone to McMahon)
McMahon: “Well, I like the sounds of that Gorilla, I like the sounds of that a lot. Also, all of us here at the WWF would like to thank you, for your years of entertaining the fans and for your friendship to all over the course of your illustrious career both in and out of the ring. I simply have one thing to add here and that is this, in the spirit of not taking away from President Monsoon’s final night here in the WWF, I will hold of from sharing with you all the executive decision made by myself and the Board of Directors regarding his replacement. I can however tell you that next week, right here on Raw, I will reveal that man to the world and I can guarantee you, the WWF fans, that this man is a man of honor, a man of pride, and a man of prestige who each and every one of you are familiar with. Thank you again, Gorilla Monsoon, and thank you the fans of the World Wrestling Federation. Buckle up and get ready, because after this break, it is time for Mondaaaay Night R-R-R-Raaaaaw.”
We return from break and after Vince McMahon is welcomed back by Jim Ross and the “King, we are shown the bracket for the tag team title tournament with all four first round bouts set to take place tonight. We are told that in round one, The Road Warriors will face off with the Godwinns, the self-proclaimed “Hottest Free Agents” in the WWF, Billy Gunn and Jesse James will go one with the team of D-Lo Brown and Kama, representing the Hart Foundation, the team of Brian Pillman and Jim Neidhart will battle the Headbangers, and the D.O.A. team of Skull and 8-Ball will match up with the New Blackjacks. After the announcers discuss briefly and express their excitement for the possible unveiling of the “men in green,” and they gush over President Monsoon’s big announcement, they remind us that Shawn Michaels has also promised a huge announcement to be made here tonight before we head to the ring for the first tournament bout, where Road Warriors get the win over Henry and Phineas after hitting Phineas with their patented Doomsday Device. As the Warriors and their manager, Paul Ellering, stride back to the locker room soaking in the cheers from the crowd, we cut to a back hallway, where the Billy Gunn and Jesse James walk up upon Crush, Chainz, Skull, and 8-Ball. “Hey there big fellas, in case you haven’t heard, we are currently shopping ourselves around, we are the most happening thing going here in the tag team division, and we are the hottest free agents in the WWF,” Gunn says. Replying simply with ice cold stares until James responds in very slow and sarcastic annunciation of his words, “F-R-E-E A-G-E-N-T-S, DO YOU COMPRENDE?” When each of the huge bikers take a step toward them, Gunn and James pick up the pace in their walk, shrugging their shoulders as they walk away laughing, the camera follows them as they turn the corner and walk into the WWF Champion, Bret Hart, who peeks his head out of his dressing room and offers up, “Hey, Billy, Jesse, you guys got a minute?” We go to break as the two again look at each other, shrug their shoulders and head into the room.
Returning from the break, we head to the backstage Raw interview area, where Michael Cole stands
Cole: “Undertaker, you lost your WWF title last night in very controversial fashion after being hit with a steel chair swung by the referee in your match, Shawn Michaels. This coming just six days after a chair aimed at Michaels by Bret “The Hitman” Hart also instead found its way upside your head. Tonight, you are booked in an eight man tag match on the side of the new WWF Champion against, Shawn Michaels and for the first time in an actual match this gang known simply as the “Men in Green.” Your thoughts concerning the main event here tonight?”
Undertaker: (Seething mad) “My thoughts? My thoughts? My thoughts are this, Shawn Michaels, you immature little puke, you are gonna cost me my WWF title? Tonight, boy, I am gonna take my revenge out in the form of an ass kicking the likes of which you have never seen. I am gonna expose you and your buddies for what you really are a bunch of pansies, and when it is all said and done, you will know why I am the ‘Lord of Darkness.’ Bret Hart, now I understand, business is business, and you got handed the opportunity of a lifetime after my skull got cracked with that chair. You had to make that cover and take that gimme. But like this man just said, I have not forgot that chair you put over my head last week either, so I had best see no nonsense out of you and your boys here tonight either, or each of you will rest in peace as well. Seeing as how I am willing to accept the bogus win you scored though last night “Hitman,” I would like to think that you will have no problem granting me a rematch for my WWF Championship you are now wearing around your waist. So, I just got done speaking with the outgoing WWF President, Gorilla Monsoon and I ran something by him and he told me it was as good as a done deal, and that deal Bret, is that I will use my rematch clause next week right here on Raw and I show the excellence of execution what it is really like to be executed.”
Cole: “Wow, now that is a huge announcement. But Undertaker, before we head back to the ring, I must ask you about Paul Bearer. Last night at SummerSlam it appeared that you(Cole is interrupted, as Bearer, Vader, Goldust, and Savio Vega appear and scare him from the set. The three men stand behind Bearer, who holds the manila envelope in the Undertaker’s face and says, “We are good for tonight, right Dead Man. We are still on, correct?” Undertaker takes a deep breath and sighs with an angry look on his face and gives a slight nod before walking away. Bearer and the three “Alliance” members share an evil laugh for a moment before the action heads back to the ring.)
Back at ringside, Jim Ross wonders, “What in the hell is in that envelope and what is the deal with Paul Bearer and the Undertaker?” After mulling that over, the second tag tournament bout is set to go, and Billy Gunn and Jesse James continue their hot streak, advancing over D-Lo Brown and Kama after the referee had been knocked down and Faarooq, Rocky Maivia, and Marc Mero came to ringside. Both Faarooq and Rocky hopped to the apron and Mero tossed them a chair as Kama held back the arms of Gunn. But when Faarooq and Maivia argued and tugged over the chair, it fell and Gunn wiggled free, and walloped Kama with it before James snuck in and hit his pump handle slam on the big man as the official returned to make a three count. Just before the break, we see the L.O.D. locker room, where Hawk and Animal are congratulated by Sid and Ken Shamrock. The group agrees that the Warriors will be the next tag champs, while Sid and Shamrock reveal which tournament they will be involved in as all four also speak of visions of Sid regaining the European Title, and Shamrock doing the same in the I-C tourney.
After another commercial break, we return and the music of the new WWF Champion, Bret Hart hits, Bret strides proudly to the ring with the entire Hart Foundation. Bret takes the microphone as he is showered in loud boos and catcalls from the live audience.
Bret: “Well, here we are again. I am never one to say I told you so, but one more time, you are looking at the WWF Champion, just like I told you that you would be. You ungrateful Americans can boo and scream all you want, but you have no one to thank but your hero Shawn Michaels, who couldn’t keep his composure and your other hero, the Undertaker, who just couldn’t get the job done. So, as for wrestling in America, as much as I hate to come out here before you low life scum, it looks like I am your new five time champion and you can all put that in your red, white, and blue pipes and smoke it. It is time for the Foundation to take back control of what is ours here in the World Wrestling Federation, so after we unmask the “Boy Toy’s” little buddies here tonight, we will have my brother Owen, who did us all a favor when he broke the neck of that no good hyena, Steve Austin at SummerSlam last night, competing next week in the Intercontinental Title tournament, and the strongest man in the WWF, the British Bulldog taking the first step at regaining his European Championship the week after that. As for Brian and “The Anvil”, they will mop this ring with a couple more of the clowns you Americans like to cheer for, the Headbangers, right here after we are done speaking and move on and take the tag team gold and bring it back to the most elite group in WWF history, too. As for the rematch, next week with the Undertaker, I say bring it on “Dead Man.” You want to talk about resting in peace, well you looked pretty peaceful last week when I knocked your big, dumb ass out in this ring, didn’t you? You can try and come take this belt all you want, but the fact is that this time it is here around the waist of the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be to stay and… (Suddenly, Shawn Michaels music hits, and HBK strides to the ramp with the three “Men in Green” behind him. Bret points and challenges them to come to the ring until the music stops then Bret continues)…hey, Shawn, “Boy Toy,” mop up job you did as the referee last night. Thanks for the assist, just like I always say, it is never that hard to outsmart an American.(All five Foundation members point and laugh) Oh and wow, you brought your little “kliq” with you did you, so I don’t have to worry about them sneaking up behind me? Well, I don’t suppose with the odds even in the ring here we would ever have to worry about that. One thing is for sure, those gutless pieces of crap must be American just like you, because they have never been anything but a bunch of hit and run cowards and tonight, the gig is up, tonight, they are in for the beating of their lives, and tonight(Shawn interrupts)
Michaels: “Woh, woh, woh, slow down there Mr. Canadian Hero, slow down just a second. First off, you are welcome for that title on your shoulder, because if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t even be here tonight, “Hitman,” your ass would be on a one way ticket out of the greatest country in the world, for good. As for these warriors that stand behind me, they have been waiting for the day they could get their hands on you, your little nugget brother, and that jacked up hound dog standing beside you. You see, Bret, no one will be getting unmasked tonight, and the only un-anything we will see is you being undressed as the fake that you are and then the un-dertaker whipping your ass and taking the WWF title back next week. Oh and geez, how thoughtless of me, I almost forgot, I promised that I had a big bombshell to drop here tonight, and we all know unlike the “Hitman” when it comes to showing up and making good on a promise or a performance, the “Heart Break Kid” never comes up short, (Shawn squints and holds his finger and thumb up to signify something short, glancing back at the masked men as they all appear to laugh) so here it goes, Bret, chew on this. You have seen that beside myself there are these three and two others that have appeared as the “Men in Green,” not that you will see them unveiled tonight, but you will, all in due time. That being said, I leave you with this after those five, my friend, there may just be one more waiting for just the right spot to get you, and when you least expect it “Hitman” you can rest assured that he will appear. This is a man that you know very well and that you have trusted for many, many years Bret. Heck, , I don’t know you might say he is sort of like family. Just a little food for thought there, champ, see you in the ring later tonight.” (The Hart Foundation all stands at the ropes, pointing and hollering, as HBK backs away and gives a wave in their direction. Bret, Owen, and Bulldog leave as we take a quick break and during the commercial, the Headbangers are introduced.)
After a very short break, we return for the next tag tournament bout, where Pillman and Neidhart defeat the Headbangers with a version of the classic Hart Foundation “Hart Attack” clothesline that sees Pillman hit the move off the ropes while the “Anvil” bearhugs Thrasher leading to a three count.
After the bout, we return backstage, where we see the D.O.A. members talking as they get ready for their match that is up next, Crush is heard saying, “I don’t know, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I know he gave us his word and that is the word of a brother, so we have got his back. The camera then switches to Paul Bearer and the New Blackjacks, walking toward the “Gorilla Position.” Just before they arrive, they are stopped by Billy Gunn and Jesse James, still exuberant over their win. “Did you guys see that, “Gunn gushes as he flexes and James stands behind him flailing his arms. “Man, we are without a doubt the hottest free agent team in the WWF, what do you say fellas, we have been cowboys before, remember, I was ‘Rock-a-Billy’?” James adds, “And I was J-E-double S-E to the James, the new Double J.” They both flash a big toothy smile before Bradshaw steps in front of Bearer, very straight faced and responds, “You boys better get out of our way or you are gonna get you’re A-double S kicked to the likes of which you ain’t never seen.” Gunn and James look at each other shrug and move along continuing to gloat over their win.
Another short break brings us back to the final match of the first round in the tag title tournament, where the New Blackjacks win over the D.O.A., when inexplicably, the house lights go out during the match and then following a crack of lightning, they come back on and the both Skull and 8-Ball are Crush and Chainz watching on the monitor confused and questioning what had just happened. Just before break we see Shawn Michaels in the locker room with his three masked partners. He stops at the first who is tall and somewhat lanky and slaps both hands on their chest, saying, “It’s been a while for you big man, you still got it right?” He gets a nod gives a swat on the backside as he walks away. HBK then approaches the second, gives the same two palmed slap to the chest and says, “You ready for this buddy? All your wounds healed up or what?” Another nod is given, which is followed by another playful smack on the butt. Michaels then goes before the third partner, saying “And what about you, guess there has got to be a first for everyone, right?” Before his hands slap the chest of this partner, both arms shoot up and stop him and the masked person gives a shake of the head to tell Shawn to stop Shawn from making contact. “Oops, sorry, I get carried away, sometimes,” he says before the same partner again stops his attempted slap on the bottom, just turning and wagging a finger to say no. “I know, I know, I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist,” he says as they exit the dressing room and head out for the match. The broadcast team explains that after our final commercial it will be time for the big eight man tag main event, next.
After break, the HBK team is introduced first, followed by Bret, Owen, and Bulldog, before the final man to be announced is the Undertaker.
Match- Eight Man Tag Team Match- WWF Champion, Bret “The Hitman Hart, Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, and The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels and the “Men in Green”- The bout begins with much jawing between Michaels and the opposing side. The Undertaker seems to be sizing up both his opponents and his partners as Jim Ross notes from ringside, “This should be interesting folks, you would have to say the “Phenom” is the wild card here as he stands somewhat alone amongst these eight combatants with a score to settle with either side.” Michaels starts for his team against the Bulldog, and Davey Boy gets the early edge, after locking up twice and tossing HBK half way across the ring in a tremendous show of power. After the second, Michaels charges, but is met with an armdrag, hopping up for a second charge that results in the same, with Bulldog holding on to an arm bar following this one, isolating the opponent in the Foundation/’Taker corner, where he tags in Owen, who enters off the second rope, hitting an elbow as Davey outstretches Shawn’s arm. Owen continues to work the limb, following with an armdrag and another arm bar, when he slaps hands for his brother to enter. Bret picks up right where it was left off, ringing Shawn’s arm again, before scooping him from the side for a perfect back breaker. Pouncing quickly, Bret then takes to the second rope for an elbow drop, but when he returns for a second, Undertaker tags himself in and stalks the fallen Michaels, looking for vengeance from the night previous. Possibly out of sheer fear, Shawn senses “Taker approaching scurries to the corner and tags in one of his partners. The tall, lanky masked man enters and trades punches with the “Dead Man,” briefly before the big rights of the Undertaker win out. “This “man in green” should’ve done their homework. You don’t want to get in a fight with the Undertaker, he is tougher than a two dollar steak,” notes J.R. At this point, Michaels causes a brief aversion for the official as Undertaker winds the arm and readies to climb the ropes to go “old school.” But with the distraction, the masked man goes to the eyes and yanks the “Phenom” from the top back into the ring where he crashes in a heap. Getting in several kicks, while the ‘Taker is down, the masked man then tags in a second “man in green,” who pulls the opponent up and whips him to the ropes where he hits a high knee to the face. Following up with a knee drop, the referee jumps to position and his count reaches two. Now the HBK captained squad shows their continuity, as Michaels is tagged back in and he scores with a big flying forearm after another whip to the ropes. As ‘Taker sits up, he is met by a baseball slide dropkick of sorts from the “Showstopper,” who turns to gloat following the kick. As he does, Undertaker again sits up, and by the time Shawn is done celebrating and showboating he turns to the “Dead Man” on both feet staring him in the eye. A wild swing is blocked, as is a second, before Undertaker grabs Shawn under the arms and hurls him into the corner. He scores with a flurry of combination rights and lefts and then bashes Michaels behind the ear with a succession of elbow smashes. He then scoops Shawn on his shoulder and heads across the ring, looking to hit the “Snake Eyes.” Just before he can reach the corner though, HBK, slides behind and shoves Undertaker into the corner, where just before hitting the buckle, the one masked man to not enter yet, pulls the referee by the shirt over in between Undertaker and the turnbuckle. This crushes the official on impact, rendering him down and out on the mat. Seeing this opportunity, the Hart Foundation side charges and all four from each side square off, with Bret getting the better of Shawn momentarily, and Owen, Bulldog, and Undertaker each dominating one of the “men in green,” emptying them from the ring, all on the same side as they each took turns hurling them to the floor. Bulldog first rolls outside and brawls with the tallest of the three, as the other two struggle to get up. As they do, first, the Undertaker sprints across and dives between the ropes, nailing one of them as Owen leaps from the top rope and hits the other with a picture-esque cross body block. Amidst this chaos at ringside, Bret and Shawn continue to go toe to toe in the ring, when two more “men in green” appear, running down the ramp, each wielding a chair. When they arrive, the first sneaks around and levels Bulldog across the back, dropping him. “Oh, come on now, how many times are we gonna see this,” Ross complains, as the second man takes his chair across the back of Owen, who was having his way on the outside with another of the masked men. They then turn their attention to the Undertaker, who incredibly fights both off, catching the first as they came around the corner with a big boot that smashes the chair into the face of the attacker. This knocks the attacker back first off the apron, with the chair sliding into the ring. ‘Taker also is one step ahead of the second attacker, punching the back of the chair and likewise, knocking it into his face and on to the floor. After dominating all five of the masked men on the floor, the ‘Taker picks up the chair and returns to the ring, where he still looks over his back momentarily at the pile of bodies. In the meantime, a tug of war for the other chair between Bret and Shawn is won by “The Hitman,” who after yanking the chair free turns and swings. Always savvy and knowledgeable of his ring presence, Michaels ducks and Bret’s home run swing again connects with the Undertaker just as he turns his head back toward the two. Stunned, Bret, much like one week ago, stands and stares for a split second. When he does turn around, the “man in green” that never legally entered the bout has recovered and sneaks up behind on one knee, hitting the unsuspecting Hart with an uppercut between the legs that double him over. The cheap shot artist then goes and revives the official so he can return to see Bret look up and walk right into “Sweet Chin Music” which is good enough to allow HBK to score the pin on the WWF Champion. Picking the chairs back up, the sextet (five masked and Michaels) take turns wearing out all four of their fallen adversaries, with an exclamation point being put on the mauling by HBK having one of his partners pull up the ‘Taker’s head while he was on his knees so he could land a sickening chairshot to the skull before making their now expected exit through the crowd. “This was a mugging, an absolute mugging,” Ross argues. “Let’s hope whoever comes on next week as the replacement for President Monsoon can get some order restored around here. This type behavior is sickening and borderline criminal here, and the whole damn assault has been orchestrated by Shawn Michaels.” Raw goes off the air to the Michaels and the five raising their hands in victory amongst the crowd, with Shawn mouthing the words, “I told you so,” before waving his hands in the air and winding up a crotch chop as the team of masked men whoop it up and celebrate behind him.
Raw is War- August 11, 1997- Biloxi, MS
Raw comes on the air with a black and white video recap of the Gorilla Monsoon announcement forcing the “Men in Green” to compete last week, followed by the highlights of the bout with the group mauling Bret, Owen, Bulldog, and the Undertaker. Following the intro, we go to Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler at ringside. They tell us that standing by in the ring is their broadcast partner, Vince McMahon with the announcement of a replacement for President Monsoon.
McMahon: “Hello again everyone and welcome to Monday Night Raw. As you all are well aware, the President of the WWF, the legendary Gorilla Monsoon resigned from his position effective at the end of last week’s program and if you will remember correctly, I had promised to come before you tonight with a new leader of the World Wrestling Federation. That being said, I will not be naming a new president per se, as I am doing away with that position, but what I will be bringing you is the first ever Commissioner of the WWF here tonight. Much thought and deliberation went into selected someone for such a powerful position. Myself and the board of directors weighed many options and took into account the need for stern and strong leadership. We also considered the chaos that has been going on around here in the ever changing world of the World Wrestling Federation, so we also put some stake in the man for this job being someone who could handle himself physically if necessary. So ladies and gentleman, I give you a man that can and has walked into battle man a time here in the WWF and left the battlefield with his head held high and more often than not with his hand raised high as well. He is an American icon and he is a former WWF Champion and one of the most legendary and popular performers in the history of this company. This is a man who has no problem ‘giving out orders’ and following through to be sure those orders are carried out, ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the new Commissioner of the World Wrestling Federation, Sgt. Slaughter. (Slaughter’s music hits and he receives a warm ovation from the crowd. He walks into the ring dressed in a sport jacket, turtle neck, and dress pants then shakes McMahon’s hand before Vince hands over the microphone and returns too his spot at the broadcast table.)
Slaughter: “Hello and thank you. I must start by saying that it is an absolute honor to be named as the Commissioner of the World Wrestling Federation. I thank you Vince McMahon and I thank the board of directors for having the faith in the ol’ Sarge to get the job done. Now, as much as I would like to sit back and enjoy my new position, as you all know, there is a lot of madness going on right now in the WWF. We have a champion in Bret Hart that continually insists on denouncing the greatest country in the world, the United States of America. In addition, we have this snot nosed puke, Shawn Michaels running around here with a pack of masked men laying people out with chairs like they own the place. Then we also have the Undertaker, who was robbed of his WWF Championship at SummerSlam, thanks to that maggot, Shawn Michaels. Now, we do have a WWF Championship match scheduled to take place here tonight between Bret and the Undertaker and that will be our main event for the evening, however, since it seems no one around here, especially these two can’t have a match without Mr. Michaels and his goon squad interfering, it is my first item of business tonight as commissioner to make that World Championship match between Bret Hart and the Undertaker a steel cage match. Oh, and just in case someone does try to get in over the cage like they have in the past, I am going to name myself as the special guest referee in this match, to be 100 percent sure that does not happen. While, I am still on the topic of Shawn Michaels, the “Heartbreak Puke,” I have a second order of business to lay out. Given my new leadership role here, I have taken it upon myself to review the eight man tag team match that took place here on Raw last week and after doing so, I have used my authority as Commissioner to reverse the decision and disqualify the team of Shawn Michaels and his three masked pals and award that bout to their opponents. Thus, given the stipulations set forth by my good friend and the former WWF President Gorilla Monsoon, the three competitors that teamed last week with Shawn must unmask and reveal themselves to the world and it is my executive decision that they have until the end of this broadcast to do so or they will all be fired, and that’s an order.” (The broadcasters rave about the two decisions laid out by the new commissioner and remind us before the break that tonight we will see all four first round matchups in the Intercontinental Title tournament. Before break, we are shown the brackets, where we are told that Rocky Maivia will take on Savio Vega, Faarooq will do battle with Crush, Owen Hart will go one on one with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Ken Shamrock will take on Goldust.)
Following the commercial Raw is back on the air, and we go right to the Raw interview area where Dok Hendrix is standing by with Shawn Michaels.
Hendrix: “Well, Shawn Michaels, it would appear there is a new sheriff in town and he is the Commissioner of the World Wrestling Federation, Sgt. Slaughter. Our new commissioner has spoken and laid down the law and he has said that if you are to continue working here that your masked partners from last week will have to show their faces by the end of our broadcast tonight.
Michaels: (Wiggles his fingers on both hands and then bites them, sarcastically acting scared) “Oh no, so big, bad Sgt. Slaughter is going to come in here and start laying down the law? Well, that Gomer Pyle look alike had best be careful what he wishes for, because you see, tonight was our night anyhow. So, Sgt. Slaughter, don’t get your chin all worked up in a tizzy, because you can have what you want, my team will show their faces tonight, and those will be the first of several new faces of a revolution in this company that no one has ever seen. You really, really want to see, commish, well how about we give you a little taste of exactly what your job is gonna entail by taking over your crappy show here tonight? By the end of the show, you wanna see them, right? That is what the big man, wants? You thought last week’s show ended in controversy and chaos, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Oh, and Bret, my hero, you and your family, don’t forget, I still got a few surprises up my sleeve for you fellas, too, just wait for them and Mr. Commissioner, Mr. Sgt. Gomer, remember, that this is what you wanted and this is exactly what you are going to get, and that (makes a mocking salute to the camera) is an order. (Just as Michaels finishes the salute, the Undertaker flies into the picture with a huge right hand. He floors HBK and pounces on him, pummeling him with big rights as agents hurry into the scene and pull him off, just as they are separated and ‘Taker starts walking away, the three “Men in Green” show and help Michaels to his feet, Undertaker stares them down as he slowly walks away.)
The cameras then go back up to the ring, where, Rocky Maivia wins the first Intercontinental tournament bout of the night. Rocky is seconded for the match by Marc Mero and Sable, while Paul Bearer is in the corner of Savio. Maivia scores the win after inexplicably one of the “Men in Green” hits the ring and lays out Vega with a hangman’s neckbreaker, which Maivia followed with a “Rock Bottom.” Immediately following the match, we go backstage, where the Undertaker walks into his dressing room and is again confronted by Crush and the rest of D.O.A. regarding the lights going out and them being cost their tag title tournament match the week before. The ‘Taker simply bows his head and offers no response to Crush before walking out of the room and back down the hall. Crush questions him as he walks away, “Come on brother, be straight with me here, where is your head at?”
Another commercial break is then followed up by our second I-C tourney bout which sees Faarooq get the duke against Crush, when once again, the official is distracted by D-Lo Brown and Kama on the outside and another of the “Men in Green” halts the offensive rally of crush with a vicious low blow, allowing Faarooq to score with a spinebuster and set up a very intriguing match for the next round that will pit him against fellow Nation member, Rocky Maivia. Following this, we go to the back, where the L.O.D. and Paul Ellering are discussing their upcoming tournament bouts. Hawk and Animal talk about looking forward to facing the New Blackjacks once again in the semifinals,, while Sid speaks of finally getting his revenge against the ‘Alliance’ when he meets Vader at “Ground Zero” in the first round of the European title tournament, while Ken Shamrock says that he is “in the zone” and ready to face Goldust tonight. Just as they finish talking and walk into the hallway, they are ambushed by the exact ‘Alliance’ members they spoke of, with neither side necessarily getting the better of the other before a host of referees show up and separate the two sides. Following the separation, the cameras stay on the ‘Alliance,’ and Paul Bearer tells them to go on ahead. He is then seen pulling the manila folder out from inside his sport jacket and stopping at the Undertaker’s dressing room door, where he knocks and then quickly walks in before the show cuts to another break.
After this set of commercials, we return to the Raw interview area, where WWF Champion Bret “the Hitman” is waiting with Michael Cole. Bret is flanked by Brian Pillman and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart.
Cole: “Bret Hart, your WWF Championship match tonight with the Undertaker has now been moved within the confines of a fifteen foot high steel cage per the orders of the new WWF Commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter. In addition, Commissioner Slaughter has assigned himself the special guest referee for the match after he directed some comments your way when introducing himself to the crowd here tonight in Biloxi. Your thoughts on the big match tonight and the words of one, Sgt. Slaughter.
Bret: “You know Michael Cole, Sgt. Slaughter is just another in a long line of WWF officials to come down the pike and show absolutely no respect for the legacy of a five time WWF Champion and the best technical wrestler this company has ever seen. Slaughter doesn’t like my comments about America? Well maybe the great American hero should take a look in the mirror and see what my issue is with this country. You see, Slaughter is a perfect example of the fat, lazy American that gets everything handed to him and doesn’t work for a damn thing. So, I really don’t care what the new commissioner thinks of me, I don’t care if the Undertaker and I are put in a cage tonight, and I don’t care if Shawn Michaels comes out here with his idle threats like always, because I’m the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be, and there isn’t a thing any of these inferior athletes in America can do about it. Now in a few minutes, my brother Owen will wipe the mat with Hunter Helmsley and get one step closer to regaining his Intercontinental belt. Bulldog is helping him get ready for that one, and these two gentleman with me are well on their way to becoming the World Tag Team champions with a huge win last week. Now, Michael, if you don’t mind(just then, Billy Gunn and Jesse James walk by and Bret diverts his attention to them, calling them over), hey fellas, over here. Billy, Jesse, what happened last week? I thought we were clear on where we were heading? (Neidhart and Pillman stand chest to chest with Gunn and James as they come right up to Bret. On a side note, these two teams will meet in the semifinals of the tag title tournament)
Gunn: (Both Gunn and James wear a huge smile) “Hey guys, hi Bret, what happened last week, was we won again.Didn’t you see it, our stock is going through the roof and we are somehow still the “hottest free agent team in the WWF.”
Bret: “No, I mean as far as what we talked about. Congratulations on the win, but I thought we had all worked out, are we on the same page for tonight? I mean, you are still interested, right?”
James: “Oh for diggity we are still interested, Bret. Just as sure as we are the “hottest free agent team in the WWF” we are interested, and we won’t let you down tonight or next week, or hell, not even the week after that when we keep our streak alive against your boys right here.”(Pillman and Neidhart inch closer with a very serious look on their faces, while Gunn and James still clown around and wear big smiles that change to some silly faces they make)
Bret: “Well, we will see about that,(Puts a hand on both of the chests of Pillman and Neidhart and pushes them back a step) If you guys are serious, I hope you don’t let me down. (Motions to Pillman and Neidhart to go)Come on boys, let’s go.
Gunn: (It is now just Gunn, James and Cole) “Jeez, let him down ? We never let anyone down, and that’s why we are the (James joins in and they say in unison smiling at the camera) “hottest free agent team in the WWF.”
Jim Ross weighs in and expresses his confusion as to the Bret Hart/Gunn and James connection before we head back to the ring for the next tournament bout, which sees Hunter Hearst Helmsley with Chyna defeat Owen Hart, who had the British Bulldog in his corner. Owen seemed to have the match in hand, when Chyna distracted the referee just as Hart spun Helmsley into the sharp shooter. This prompted Bulldog to pull her off the apron. At this same time, Billy Gunn and Jesse James came to ringside, just as the referee began turning back to check if Helmsley would submit. As James then was questioned by the referee, Gunn began arguing with Chyna when from behind out of the crowd came one of the “Men in Green,” who dropped Bulldog with a chairshot. In the meantime, Helmsley was tapping out, but there was no official to see this happen, so Owen released the hold seeing Bulldog go down. Shawn Michaels then jumped the barricade from the other side of the crowd and nailed Owen upon turning around with “Sweet Chin Music,” and Hunter crawled over and draped an arm on Owen for the official who finally returned for the one, two, three. We then see a promo for the upcoming “Ground Zero” pay per view, before another set of commercials.
Ross, Lawler, and McMahon discuss the chaos caused by Michaels and his cohorts, noting that the show is nearly over and that if the masked men do not reveal themselves that HBK will be fired tonight. The action then heads back up to the ring for the final first round Intercontinental bout, where Goldust defeats Ken Shamrock when the referee is distracted by Paul Ellering and Paul Bearer scuffling on the floor and two of the ‘Men in Green’ come out from under the ring and knock each competitor out with a pedigree before fleeing to the back. “Wait just a minute,” Ross jumps in, “a pedigree? Now we know who one man is that delivers the pedigree and damn him straight to hell for being in on this, but who in the hell else could give such a perfectly executed pedigree?” Both of the men lie unconscious on the mat, as the referee returns, but then once again, the house lights go off and after a crack of lightning, when they return, Goldust is on top of Shamrock for the three count. “Good lord, what else could possibly happen tonight?” asks J.R. “Plus, after this next and last commercial break, we have still got a steel cage match for the WWF Title, stay tuned.”
After coming back from the final break, the cage is lowered and Commissioner Slaughter is the first to the ring in a striped referee’s shirt. The WWF champion, Bret Hart is next, followed by the always extravagant entrance of the Undertaker.
Match- WWF Championship Steel Cage Match- WWF Champion, Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. The Undertaker (Commissioner Slaughter is the special referee)-The match begins with Slaughter giving a stern talking to both combatants. “Finally we may be seeing someone taking charge around here,” Ross notes as Slaughter makes it clear who is the boss. Bret and ‘Taker then meet at center ring and trade punches. Both men score with several heavy shots before Hart sneaks in a boot to the gut and is quick to follow with an inverted atomic drop. Going to what brought him to the game Bret hits a second atomic drop and then slides behind for a Russian leg sweep. This is the sequenced with a patented “Hitman” elbow drop off the second rope. “The Hitman looks sharp tonight, he came here to show off the athleticism that you can only see here in the World Wrestling Federation,” notes McMahon. Bret then stomps the ‘Dead Man’ while he is down, backing him into the corner. After a few more kicks, Slaughter intervenes and separates the two as Hart argues with the new Commissioner, who points at the emblem on his shirt, signifying again that he is in charge here. The brief dispute gives Undertaker the rest he needed, as he pops up when Bret returns and reverses an attempted whip to the corner, sending Bret snapping off the buckle face first. Undertaker follows right in , and before Bret can drop, he levels him with a clothesline to the back off the head. He pulls the champion up by the straps on his tights and levels him behind the ear with a flurry of stiff elbows, before pulling him away and then slinging him face first into the cage. “The Hitman” is the first to taste the steel, and I’m guessing it doesn’t taste like chicken,” J.R. deadpans, before the ‘Taker hoists Bret on his shoulder and goes for the “Snake Eyes.’ After hitting the first one, he again puts Bret over his shoulder, but this time, instead he runs across the ring and launches him like a dart into the steel again. Following an arm ringer, Undertaker climbs the ropes and leaps, nailing Bret on the shoulder with his “old school” forearm smash, before ringing the arm again and going up a second time. This time though, when he jumps, Bret yanks him and somehow rolls through, winding up on his feet, with Undertaker on his back and both of the “Dead Man’s” feet in his hands. He quickly steps over and rolls him through into the sharpshooter as the crowd gives a gasp at the smoothness of the reversal. “Say what you want about the WWF Champion, you can love him or hate him, but when you get between those ropes, there are few better,” J.R. proclaims. Hart really is leaning back on the hold, when the “Men in Green” start coming down the ramp in clear site of him. Michaels leads the pack with his three cronies close behind. Both Bret and Slaughter shout in their direction, as each carries a steel chair. Before they make it all the way to the ring though, Owen, Bulldog, Pillman, and Neidhart appear and they brawl with the four intruders up the aisle and down around the ringside area. Bret still sits on the sharpshooter, as Slaughter yells out at those brawling about ringside. Bret eventually lets go and challenges Michaels, who has shot free and is now standing beside the cage. At this point, another two “Men in Green” come from the far side, and Slaughter now has his attention averted to them. They distract the special referee long enough for Michaels to produce a set of bolt cutters to unlock the cage. Seeing the job complete, the two newest arrivals join HBK and the others in using their numbers advantage and eventually several steel chairs to eliminate the threat of the Hart Foundation. Watching this go on, Bret runs toward the cage door, but the ‘Taker reaches out an arm and latches on to the back of his trunks and tugs him back toward the center of the ring. Jim Ross remarks that this is a familiar scene, noting “This looks like the ‘Canadian Stampede’ all over again, dammit, and I am not liking it one bit,” as Michaels and the three other masked men climb up each side of the cage as the last two stand on the outside. Meanwhile, after pulling Bret back, Undertaker ducks a roundhouse right and slaps his hand to the throat of Hart, leveling him with a chokeslam. He then scoops Bret up, following running his thumb across the throat signifying the end is near. ‘Taker drops to his knees and hammers Bret’s skull into the mat with a Tombstone, folding his arms over and begins to walk out of the cage, looking back at the four intruders who are now over the top of the cage and climbing into the ring. Just as the “Phenom” walks one step out, the two masked men remaining outside the cage slam the cage door shut with authority into his face, knocking Undertaker silly and back into the ring. The masked men have now entered the ring and the two on the outside slide four chairs into the ring before leaving through the crowd. Slaughter warns Michaels as he picks a chair up and looks at Bret and the two stand chest to chest before the one of the attackers sneaks behind the Commissioner and hits a low blow. Michaels then cracks the cranium of Slaughter with a savage chair shot and as he staggers, he walks into a pedigree. Just as the man delivering the pedigree stands up, Michaels gives a lean and a double point of the fingers and the two in unison unmask and reveal themselves as Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna. Now, still a bit wobbily, the Undertaker approaches Michaels again before he can strike the “Hitman”, but before he can grab him, the lone masked man left spins him around and hits a hangman’s neckebreaker, the group celebrates and now HBK, Helmsley, and Chyna all give the lean and double point his way, and when he pulls the mask off, he reveals himself to be “Ravishing” Rick Rude. Amidst all this celebrating, always the thinking wrestler, Bret crawled quickly past the confusion and to the outside of the ring, winning the match, getting out of harm’s way and retaining his title. Raw goes off the air to complete silence as Michaels, Rude, Helmsley, and Chyna continue to batter the Undertaker and Slaughter, before a final shot shows the four raising their locked hands in the center of the ring.
Raw is War- August 18, 1997- Atlantic City, NJ-
The broadcast begins with a retrospective of the progression of the “Men in Black,” then turning to the “Men in Green,” highlighting all of the hell they have raised over the past five months. The package ends with a recap of the brutal attacks of the past two weeks and then their eventual unveiling last week on Raw. It ends with the still shot of Michaels, Helmsley, Chyna, and Rude standing as one raising each others arms at the end of last week’s broadcast. After this is finished, the Raw intro hits, and immediately upon heading inside the arena, the music of Shawn Michaels hits over the house system. HBK comes through the curtain but stops a few steps out. He then turns toward the entrance , and with a lean, gives the same two armed point back toward the entrance area, where Helmsley, Chyna, and Rude emerge and the four stride with confidence toward the ring. Once they hit the squared circle, Michaels immediately gets on the stick.
Michaels: “So, is everybody happy now? (Shawn flashed a big toothy grin at the camera, that pans down across his three pals, who also wear an over the top, sarcastic smile) You see, I told you that when Shawn Michaels makes a promise, he delivers on that promise. When Shawn Michaels says he is gonna drop a bombshell, he drops a bombshell. When Shawn Michaels assembles the most elite group to ever be put together to run roughshod over the World Wrestling Federation and have an absolute blast doing it, Shawn Michaels calls on the people he can count on, his friends. You see, let me take you all back. Let’s go way back to this past February. At that point, Shawn Michaels was the WWF Champion, but Shawn Michaels was in a bad way physically, he was in a bad way mentally, and he was in a bad way professionally. So after being diagnosed with some injuries, I came out here in this very ring and tried to relinquish the most important thing in my world, the thing that I dreamed of having since I was a teeny, tiny, “Heartbreak Kid,” the WWF Championship. But if you remember, it was Bret Hart, it was Gorilla Monsoon, it was, you, Vince McMahon (points over the ropes at McMahon, Helmsley stands beside him and offers an exaggerated crotch chop in the same direction) and dammit it was all of you fans that wouldn’t let me do it. You all forced my hand and you all turned your back on me. If everyone here can think back to that night in Lowell, Massachusetts, I believe the analogy I used was that I had ‘lost my smile,’ and it was true, but if you take a look around at the elite I stand here with, my friend, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, the “Ninth Wonder of the World” Chyna, and one of my role models in this business, and what I like to call my insurance policy, the legendary, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, and then you take a look at me, I think that one thing is obvious (Flashes another huge toothy smile, as do the other three) and that is that ol’ HBK has finally found his smile(sarcastically after saying that he acts as though he is getting emotional and fakes as though he is crying before he gives each of the three a hug, with Helmsley rubbing his shoulders after as he continues to speak) and I owe it all to these three wonderful people in the ring with me. I told you all way back in February and March that it was time for HBK to start doing this for one person, me, and that decision was made by the reactions of all of you out there, so you have no one to point your fingers at other than yourselves. You see, last week was just the beginning. We are putting everyone here in the WWF on notice, all these little groups, all your little factions, beware, because HBK doesn’t do anything half way, as a matter of fact as any of the ladies can tell you, it’s more likely for Shawn Michaels to go all the way and then keep going, and going, and going, and (Helmsley stops him and wags a finger in his face sarcastically as Chyna and Rude share a chuckle) Oh jeez, sorry got myself a little worked up there, but what was I saying again? (Helmsley leans in and whispers in his ear) Oh yeah, so consider this your warning, everyone in this company. I have spoken of a revolution the likes of which no one around this place has ever seen and it begins (All four look down as though they are looking at a watch) Well, it begins, tonight. (The four ham it up in the ring and on the way back up the ramp to the dressing room as Michaels music leads them out. Just before a commercial and while the four exit, we see a three way split screen with Bret Hart in one, Undertaker in another, and Commissioner Slaughter in the third all watching their monitors intently.)
After the break, we return and the broadcast team speaks of the fact that Raw will not be on the air for the next two weeks due to scheduling commitments of the USA network, but that it will return the night after “Ground Zero” on September 8. They then go over the tournament matches that will take place at the pay per view, as in the Tag Title tourney the semifinal matches set are the Road Warriors versus the New Blackjacks as well as Jim Neidhart and Brian Pillman against Billy Gunn and Jesse James. For the Intercontinental tournament the two semis will be Faarooq and Rock Maivia in the first and Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Goldust doing battle in the second. They also tell us that there will be two first round European Title Tournament matches here tonight on Raw with two others taking place at Ground Zero as well. Already announced for the pay per view in these brackets are Sycho Sid against Vader and the British Bulldog against Marc Mero. They then tell us that we will go up to the ring for the first of the two European title tourney bouts tonight. Jerry Lawler gloats at the broadcast position that everyone “is gonna be shocked and thrilled” with the legend that is returning to the ring for this bout to tack on D.O.A member, Chainz. The ring announcer prepares to introduce the first man, when the unmistakable sound of the “King’s” theme music hits and he laughs as he removes his coat and heads into the ring as participant number one. Then the D.O.A. theme hits, but no one walks out. The announcer introduces Chainz a second time and again, there is no response. At this point on the TitanTron, we see a shot of the backstage area and all four members of the Disciples are lying face down in a pool of blood, unconscious on the floor. At Lawler’s behest, the referee rings the bell and makes the ten count, declaring Lawler the winner by count out and moving him into a semifinal bout scheduled for the night of Raw’s return, September 8. Following this we once again, go to the back, where the ‘Unholy Alliance’ and Paul Bearer are discussing their big matchups against members of the L.O.D at “Ground Zero.” Returning the favor from the week before, the Road Warriors, Shamrock, and Sid storm into their locker room and attack the New Blackjacks, Goldust, and Vader respectively. The show goes to break to the site of all of these men pummeling each other.
After the break, we go back to the ring, where the WWF Commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter waits with a microphone. He wears a bandage on his head after the vicious attack by Michaels, Helmsley, Rude, and Chyna last week.
Slaughter: (We see random shots on split screen throughout this promo of HBK, HHH, Chyna, and Rude watching on a monitor in the back) “Well, I guess my welcoming party didn’t quite go as planned, huh? Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am not just some fancy suit that is going to sit by and take what happened last week lying down. Shawn Michaels, you puke, you want to talk about a revolution, well, I say go ahead and try. As the new commissioner of the WWF, I am here to tell you, it just isn’t going to happen. I have plans for you Shawn, big plans. Let’s start with “Ground Zero.” I figure since you want to always be in their business of late, I am going to put you in a match at that event against both of them. That is right. On Sunday, September 7 in Louisville, we are gonna have us a triple threat match. The participants for the bout will be, Shawn Michaels, and he will face off with the Undertaker, and the third man will be putting his WWF Title up for grabs, Bret “The” Hitman Hart. While on the topic of Ground Zero, I am also adding a number one contender’s match for the Intercontinental Championship, pitting Owen Hart against Ken Shamrock. The winner of this bout will face whoever is crowned the new champion, the night after they will win it on our September 8 edition of Raw. Oh wait, I almost forgot, Shawn Michaels, I had one more item of business for you, as you will be competing tonight in the first round of the European Title tournament and it will be in our main event here tonight, Mr. Revolution. This match tonight will be the first step in the crumbling of your revolution, as for your opponent will be like no man you have ever faced before, as it will not even be a man. That is right, tonight right here on Raw it will be Shawn Michaels one on one with Chyna, and that is an order. (Shawn and Chyna look at each other and then put their heads down, they then both head their respective way without saying a word.) After this, we again head backstage, where Bret Hart is pacing the halls and he walks into Billy Gunn and Jesse James.
Bret: “Guys, guys. What happened out there last week. You cost Owen his shot at regaining the Intercontinental Championship. Now, I am only going to ask this one more time and then be done with you if you cannot handle the tasks at hand. We got Ground Zero in a few weeks, and you remember what we talked about right?(Gunn and James both nod their head)So, I can count on you two, right? (They nod again, before Gunn starts speaking)
Gunn: “Hitman, you know you can count on us because we are the “hottest free( Bret cuts him off)
Bret: “Look it, enough Billy, enough of the funny, child’s play crap. You produce, then we can talk and joke around. Until then, save your free agent nonsense for someone else . This is the last chance I am offering up, so get the job done and do it right, ok?”(Hart walks away from the two before anything else is said.)
James: “Jeez, why is everyone so darn uptight around here? Try cracking a smile once in a while Bret, will you, I mean you are dealing with the (Gunn joins him as they say in unison) hottest free agent tag team in the WWF.
Another break followed and we then see a quick backstage shot of Hunter Hearst Helmsley getting Chyna psyched up for her match against Shawn Michaels later in the show. “You can do this,” he offers up, “to hell with Shawn, we have done enough for him. With you as European Champion and me as Intercontinental Champion, the sky is the limit for us, baby. Let’s go out here and shock the world.” Chyna simply nods, looking straight faced and serious. We then head back to the ringside area, where Jim Ross weighs in on what we just saw, “Well, well, it looks like Commissioner Slaughter’s plan may be working. It looks like there is already dissention in the ranks of this new group headed up by Shawn Michaels.” We then go to ringside for our next bout, which will pit Savio Vega, who comes out with Paul Bearer against the Undertaker. After the Undertaker makes his entrance, Bearer meets him on the apron and says “Remember, just remember,” before pointing at the now familiar manila envelope in his coat. Undertaker enters and proceeds to throttle Savio, finishing him off with two chokeslams before dropping him not once but twice with the tombstone. After the first chokeslam, this prompted the entire ‘Alliance,’ Vader, the Blackjacks, and Goldust to come to ringside. But after the second tombstone, instead of covering Vega, Undertaker simply flipped backwards over the top rope and left, allowing the referee to count him out and award the match to the unconscious Savio, as the ‘Alliance’ members once again slowly applauded the actions of the ‘Dead Man.” After this, we again head backstage, where this time we see Shawn Michaels, doing deep knee bends as Rick Rude encourages him. “You got this, Shawn. Don’t treat her like a woman, treat her like any opponent. You are the show stopper, you are the main event, and once you win the WWF title at Ground Zero and then you leave Great Briatin with the European title, you can be the WWF’s first ever ‘Grand Slam’ Champion.” HBK stops and replies, “Grand Slam Champion, I like the sounds of that,” and then we head to an advertisement for the Ground Zero pay per view.
We head back from break and Michael Cole is standing by with the Nation. Cole first addresses Marc Mero, who predicts that he will turn the British Bulldog into “puppy chow” in their first round European title tourney match at “Ground Zero.” He then moves along to Faarooq and Rocky Maivia, who will have to face each other at the same pay per view in the semifinals of the I-C title tournament. Faarooq implies that Rocky will step aside for the good of the group, but Maivia voices his opinion otherwise and references that “the only time I have even lost recently was because of Faarooq’s outside help. Some help,” he continues to say, “with help like that maybe this group needs a new dominating force, and what the hell is a Faarooq anyhow, it sounds like something I might squeeze out after a run for the border to Taco Bell.” D-Lo, Kama, and Mero step between and separate the two as their argument ensues, before we go back to the ring for a tag team bout pitting The New Blackjacks against Brian Pillman and Jim Neidhart. The two semifinalists in the tag title tournament battle to a double count out, and after the count reaches ten, the Road Warriors and Billy Gunn and Jesse James join in on the melee as all four of the remaining hopefuls for the straps brawl about the arena until Raw heads to another commercial break.
After the final commercials of the night, we are set for the first round European title tournament match featuring Shawn Michaels and Chyna. As the match is set to begin after Helmsley seconds Chyna and Rude is at the side of Michaels, just before the bell rings, the music of the WWF Commissioner, Sgt. Slaughter hits and the Sarge comes out on to the ramp with a microphone.
Slaughter: “Hi again guys, boy, it really pains me to see you fast friends all not getting along and fighting for a chance to hold the prestigious European Championship. I know it may not look it, but it is just tearing me up inside. But, either way, I figure that there are so many people back here in the locker room that you guys have made friends with for the last five months under those masks that I think many of them would like to come out and see this classic match right up close and personal. So, why don’t we change this one and make it, oh, I don’t know, a lumberjack match. Now, I have hand selected a group of superstars that I think would love to get a closer look here, so let’s bring them out. First off, we have one of Shawn Michaels opponents in the triple threat World Title match at “Ground Zero,” the WWF champion, Bret Hart and the entire rest of the Hart Foundation. (Bret, Owen, Bulldog, Neidhart, and Pillman stride to the ringside area)Hmmm, and let’s see, who else would want to see this one up close? Oh, I don’t know, how about the men referring to themselves of late as the “Hottest Free agent team in the WWF,” Billy Gunn and Jesse James. (Gunn and James come out to the ring) Last but not least, how about we bring out the other man involved in that huge title bout on September 7, the “Phenom,” the Undertaker. (Undertaker makes his entrance and once he arrives the lumberjacks surround the ring and we are ready to go)
Match- European Title Tournament First Round Lumberjack Match- Shawn Michaels (with Rick Rude) vs. Chyna (with Hunter Hearst Helmsley)- The lumberjacks pound the mat and mock the fact that Michaels is being forced to do battle with a woman, especially one that has just been revealed last week to be on his “side.” The referee calls for the bell and Helmsley calls Chyna over to the corner to give her some last minute words of wisdom, while Rude and Michaels also communicate in the other corner. Michaels seems reluctant to lock up with Chyna as they meet in center ring. Chyna on the other hand looks mean as a pit bull, snarling and daring HBK to come and fight. This goes on for several go rounds, as Shawn walks to the center and just before tying up, thinks better of it and heads back to his corner. After the third time this happens, when Shawn walks to the center, and backs off, Chyna gives a front flexing pose, and after taking a few steps back Shawn responds and does the same. Inexplicably as he steps toward her and lays out his pose, Chyna puts her hand against her head and appears to faint and immediately when she does, Michaels hops on her and hooks a leg for the one, two, three. Everyone stands in confusion for a few split seconds, before Helmsley and Rude join Shawn and Chyna in the center of the ring, laughing and hugging, when it sinks in finally to all that the whole thing was a set up by Michaels and company. “Dammit, there was no friction, these clowns were on the same page the whole time. This is disgusting, they have no respect for this company or this business as a whole,” J.R. argues. Ross is not the only one who realizes what has happened as within seconds, suddenly, the lumberjacks spill into the ring. Bret dives right at Michaels legs, and the two roll around, as Bulldog and Rude as well as Hunter and Owen square off and trade punches. Neidhart and Pillman get tangled up with their opponents for “In Your House,” Gunn and James and just as Chyna goes to sneak attack Owen, the ‘Taker enters, spins her around and delivers a chokeslam. All of the fights spill about the ringside area except Michaels and Hart, who stand toe to toe in the ring with neither gaining a noticeable advantage. After disposing of Chyna, the Undertaker stalks his two upcoming opponents and when they turn, he slaps a hand to both of their throats and simultaneously hoists both up and plants them with a double chokeslam. While the others continue to brawl all over the arena, ‘Taker takes turns planting both HBK and Bret with a Tombstone and Raw goes off the air to the image of both Michaels and Hart with their arms folded side by side, with the “Dead Man” hitting his classic one knee, with an arm outstretched pose as J.R. brings us home. “The Undertaker is unstoppable. He has unfinished business with Shawn Michaels and he has unfinished business with the WWF Champion that he is looking to close the book on at “Ground Zero.” I would not want to be in either of these men’s shoes come September 7 in Louisville. Remember folks, we will not be on the air next Monday or the following, but we will see you all at our “In Your House” spectacular and we will be back to business as usual the night after here on USA. Good night and remember to tune in September 7 on pay per view, I can tell you this, you don’t want to miss it.”
In Your House 17- Ground Zero- September 7, 1997- Louisville, KY
The free portion of the show begins and gives a rundown of the card ahead for the evening. Dok Hendrix stand by in the studio and briefly reviews each of the matchups, beginning with the two European title tournament matches to take place, then hitting on the upcoming semifinal bout in both the Tag Team title and Intercontinental title tournaments. He also goes over the scheduled I-C number one contender match to take place between Owen Hart and Ken Shamrock. Before reviewing the big triple threat match for the WWF Title, we head to the arena and Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and Vince McMahon. They direct us to some footage shot earlier in the evening, where the cameras caught a conversation midway through between Paul Bearer and the Undertaker that went as follows.
Bearer: “Now you listen to me Undertaker. A deal is a deal, you do as you are told or I will come out with it.”
Undertaker: “you listen here and listen good, you little troll. I have a WWF Championship match tonight. I have important business to get ready for. I have done what has been asked of me. I have helped your men. I have even wiped out my friends and put them all on the shelf, for no good reason. All I ask is that tonight, leave me be to focus on my own task at hand.”
Bearer: “I don’t give a damn about your task at hand. You have a decision to make. Do you want this secret out there, or do you wanna play ball “Dead Man.” The cards are now in your hands and I think I know you well enough to say that you are a smart enough man to make the right choice here. Now are we on the same page for tonight. I mean, hey,. We can scratch each others back if you want?”
Undertaker: “Dammit, I don’t want any help from you and your thugs. If that is how it has to be tonight, if you are forcing my hand, then you are right, I will make my presence felt, and I will make the right decision.”
Bearer: (Belts out an evil laugh as ‘Taker walks away)”Ohhhh yesss, I knew you could do it Undertaker, I knew you’d see things my way, yess, yess, yess.”
After the announcers weigh in on what this could mean regarding the rest of the evening, we go to the ring for the European title tournament match between the British Bulldog, who is seconded by Owen Hart and “Marvelous” Marc Mero, who is accompanied by Sable. Bulldog gets the win in this one after a solid back and forth match. He scores the pin after Mero misses his “Marvelosity” finisher and capitalizes on the miscalculation, hitting his running powerslam for the win. As this match ends, the announcers send us back to Hendrix in the studio and he recaps the long buildup to the Bret/Shawn/’Taker triple threat match and once he is done, he signs off as the eight o’clock hour hits and we go live for the pay per view portion of the show.
Following a promo piece on the upcoming triple threat match, we go to ringside and are once again welcomed by our commentary team. They again show us the piece that aired during the “Free for All” involving Paul Bearer and the Undertaker and then without missing a beat, we head right up to the ring, where the first match is the semifinal bout in the World Tag Team Title tournament between The Road Warriors and the New Blackjacks. Both Paul Ellering and Paul Bearer are at ringside with their respective teams for the match, which sees these two teams not disappoint as they beat the tar out of each other for about ten minutes, when suddenly, the arena lights go off. Shockingly, after a flash of lightning, when they come back on, Blackjack Windham and Blackjack Bradshaw are both laid out in the ring. A confused referee explains to an absolutely livid Paul Bearer that he has no idea what happened. As they talk, the Warriors hit the Doomsday Device on Windham and score the win, qualifying them for the finals later in the evening.
Moving right along, we see a brief promo on the recent interaction between Billy Gunn and Jesse James and Bret Hart. Following this we go to the ring for the other tag title semifinal pitting Gunn and James against Brian Pillman and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. Gunn and James continue their winning ways in this one, moving them into the finals where they will take on Hawk and Animal. The end of this match is somewhat controversial, as Pillman has James pinned at the same time that Gunn pins Neidhart, and the referee makes the three count and both teams think they have won. The decision was unknown until the ring announcer relayed the official word of the referee, who only saw the Gunn cover, thus awarded them the victory. Pillman and Neidhart look angered at first, but when the two teams come together at the conclusion of the bout, they opt to not fight and simply nod and back off, giving the “Hottest Free Agent team in the WWF,” a thumbs up on their way back to the dressing room. Following this bout, we go backstage, to Kevin Kelly, who is standing by with Shawn Michaels, Rick Rude, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Chyna.
Cole: “Shawn, tonight, you have a golden opportunity to take back the WWF Title as you face the Undertaker and Bret Hart in a triple threat match here tonight. Now you know that you have made many enemies in the locker room here in the WWF through your actions and none more so than Bret Hart and the Undertaker. I must ask, does this worry you at all and regardless of whether it does or not, what is your strategy heading into this huge main event tonight?
Michaels: ‘My strategy? What is this a chess match? Come on Cole just as sure as that great looking haircut on your puny little head, the HBK doesn’t need any strategy. Am I worried, are you serious? In case you didn’t hear me explain my reasoning for putting this all star team together here tonight, I will say it again. I am finally having fun here again and the fun I am having is at the expense of every tool like yourself in the WWF locker room. I got all the friends I need right here, so starting tonight it is just time for us to start collecting some gold around here. Now, yes, I am a little sore still from that five star classic that saw me gut out a win over our sweet, sweet Chyna over here, but you know as well as I do, that the HBK is all heart. I am never one to let an injury stand in my way. Remember Cole, you are looking at the “showstopper,” you are looking at the “main event,” and tonight when phase one of our master plan comes together, you will be looking at the brand new WWF champion.”
After the interview, we go back to ringside, where the next match pits Faarooq against Rocky Maivia in an Intercontinental semifinal round bout. In the end of this one, it would appear the Nation is a group amidst turmoil, as this match exploded into a slugfest that resulted in the referee ruling it a double disqualification that eliminated both men from the tournament and sets up the Helmsley/Goldust match to be for the Intercontinental Title. Again showing the appearance of the Nation crumbling, Marc Mero, D-Lo Brown, and Kama had to battle for all they were worth to keep Maivia and Faarooq separated.
Following this bout, we see a brief shot of Paul Bearer, stomping around mad and pacing the halls screaming for the Undertaker. Vader walks up and stops him, telling him, “come on Paul, screw the Undertaker, we have a match to win here, we don’t need him for this one.” They walk off and then we see Bret Hart in a different area back stage and he again approaches Billy Gunn and Jesse James. He congratulates them on their win and wishes them luck in their finals showdown with the Road Warriors. Gunn responds, saying, “Luck, who needs luck when you are the hottest free agent team in the WWF?” Bret fires back and says, “well, if you guys can get the job done coming up here like we talked about maybe you can just be known as the “hottest team in the WWF,” if you catch my drift.”
James responds, saying “Oh yeah, Hitman, we catch your drift, we catch it loud and clear.” After this, we again go back to ringside, for the first round European title tournament match between Sycho Sid and Vader. Vader as always is accompanied by the obviously shaken, Paul Bearer and Paul Ellering is with his man, Sid, as well. This match ends much like the New Blackjacks/ Road Warrior one did, when it seemed Vader had the win within his grasp. Just as the mastodon pulled Sid to the corner to hit his Vader Bomb finish, the arena lights again went off. Following the same flash of lightning that we saw earlier, the lights returned and Sid was draped on top of an unconscious Vader for the pinfall victory. Bearer was now, beat red in the face and throwing an absolute tantrum in the ring, hollering in the referees face at the matches conclusion before the camera heads to the “Ground Zero” interview set, where Kevin Kelly is standing by with WWF Champion Bret Hart.
Kelly: “Bret Hart, you have a huge title defense tonight against your arch rival, Shawn Michaels, and an angry and pissed off, Undertaker. You always seem to find a way or have a knack for somehow finding a way to rise to the occasion and pull out the victory against all odds. Do you have another trick up your sleeve for tonight? Or has the clock struck midnight for the ‘Excellence of Execution?”
Bret: “The clock struck midnight? Listen Kevin Kelly, you idiot, there are no tricks up my sleeve. There are no magic potions here, ok. It is plain and simple why I always rise to the occasion and the reason is because I am the absolute best at what I do. You can take the American scum Shawn Michaels and he can run out his surprise masked men or unmasked men and he can show his true red, white, and blue colors just like all the ignorant hicks here in Kentucky do, taking the easy way out of things and taking shortcuts all day long, but what always happens? Who always gets his hand raised? Me, that is who. You can have an angry Undertaker, a sad Undertaker, or a big happy and smiley Undertaker, honestly, I don’t care, because if you check the record books guess what, he can’t beat me either. So, how does the ‘Excellence of Execution’ rise to the occasion tonight? The same way he always does, by simply being the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.”
After the Hart interview, we head again back to the ringside area, where the match to determine who will face the new Intercontinental champion tomorrow night on Raw as the number one contender is next. Owen Hart is the first to enter, with the British bulldog and the Ken Shamrock is introduced with his manager, Paul Ellering. This is another fantastic match between these two former I-C titlists, as after almost twenty five minutes of non- stop action, Owen gets the win when Bulldog distracts the referee and Billy Gunn and Jesse James appear. Gunn bullies and pushes Ellering around at ringside as James retrieves the ring bell and blindsides Shamrock with it, knocking him out. Owen then puts on the sharpshooter and when the referee returns, he checks the arm of the “World Most Dangerous Man” and it drops three times, giving the win to Owen. The Road Warriors and Sid charge to protect there manager and help their fallen stable mate, but Gunn, James, Owen, and Bulldog escape their wrath and flee to the back. Following this, we again go backstage, where we see an even more furious Paul Bearer, seething mad and screaming for the Undertaker. He again is stopped by one of his men, as Goldust this time confronts his manager. “Paul come on, we have an Intercontinental Title to win here,” he says. Bearer lets out a shrieking scream of frustration before he follows his charge out to the ring. After they make their way to the ring, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna are introduced and we are set to crown a brand new Intercontinental Champion.
Match- Intercontinental Title Tournament Finals- Hunter Hearst Helmsley (with Chyna) vs. Goldust (with Paul Bearer)- We are ready and set to go in this bout, with Helmsley seeming even more cocky than usual. The two lock up to start the bout, and a knee to the midsection gives Hunter the early edge. He follows it up with a hard whip to the buckle and aggressively follows in, standing on the second rope and raining ten punches down on the head of Goldust. Following the, Helmsley goes behind his opponent and hits a belly to back suplex, before getting back to his feet and hitting a perfectly placed pair of knee drops. He pulls Goldust up after a two count and whips him into the ropes and catches an abdominal stretch as the “Gold One” comes off. Bearer is still irate and even more so now, hollering at the official as Chyna reaches a hand in for extra leverage on the move. Finally the ref sees the interference and kicks the arms apart, allowing Goldust to hip toss his way out of the move. Getting a second to catch his breath, Goldust follows up and wings Hunter to the ropes, scoring with a great flying clothesline on the rebound. He pulls HHH up again and whips him to the corner, catching him when he bounces off with a running bulldog that is good for a count of two and a half. At this point, it is Bearer that distracts the ref, as Goldust gives another Irish Whip to the buckle and pulls Hunter’s legs up over each of the second ropes and lines him up for the “Shattered Dreams.” He sprints across the ring and connects with the field goal kick between the legs, sending Helmsley to the mat in a heap. Chyna then comes over and argues with the ref and Bearer, actually flooring the portly manager with a forearm smash, knocking him from the apron to the floor. Seeing this, Goldust walks over to Chyna, who gets in his face, only to have “Goldie” plant a big, deep kiss on the lips of the amazon. Chyna reacts with a roundhouse, that the referee steps in and blocks, grabbing her arm and getting between the two. Seeing Goldust preoccupied, Helmsley charges and hits a high knee to the back of Goldust, knocking him into the referee and both to the floor. When Goldust hits the floor, Helmsley remains in the ring taunting the crowd. Seeing this, the now arisen Bearer tries to sneak in behind him, but gets caught in the act and gets a pedigree for his trouble, dropping his weapon of choice, the urn to the floor when he was grabbed. As Helmsley rolls Bearer from the ring, Savio Vega charges to ringside, retrieves the urn and lays out Hunter with a shot to the back of the head. As Goldust collects himself and slowly crawls into the ring, we see a man in a familiar get up, as someone dressed as one of the “Men in Green” races out behind Vega and floors him with a chair shot before turning and sprinting back up the ramp. With the referee returning and Goldust now scooping up Helmsley for the “Curtain Call,” it would appear he is about to be crowned the new champion when once again, the arena light go black. Another flash of lightning later and when the light return, a shocked Helmsley sees Goldust lying unconscious. He immediately pulls his limp body up and hits a pedigree before scoring the three count and being awarded the Intercontinental Title. He and Chyna celebrate in the ring before the camera cuts away and we are shown a promotional commercial for next month’s “In Your House” offering, which will be entitled Badd Blood.
Following the promo, the announcers recap the mayhem that was the Intercontinental title finals and then we get ready to go right back up to ringside to get ready to crown the new World Tag Team Champions. Billy Gunn and Jesse James are introduced first, followed by the Road Warriors and Paul Ellering. This match is dominated for the most part by Hawk and Animal, until once again an outside party comes out to ringside, this time in the form of Owen Hart and the British Bulldog. Before they get to the ring however, an absolutely irate Ken Shamrock storms out wielding a 2×4, with Sycho Sid close behind. Sid catches up to the Bulldog and chases him off and back to the locker room area, as J.R. explains, that this is a preview for a sem final bout in the European title tournament as Sid and Bulldog will do battle for a right to go to “One Night Only” and compete for the gold in the next round. Owen, however is a bit more elusive, sprinting away from Shamrock, circling the ring and actually rolling in to the bout that is going on to avoid his irate pursuer. Letting his anger get the best of him when he can’t catch Owen, Shamrock stops in the ring and attacks both Gunn and James with the board right in front of the referee. This is an immediate and blatant cause for disqualification and the official calls for the bell and awards the match to the team of Gunn and James, handing them the Tag Team titles. The Warriors, Ellering, and a regretful Shamrock argue that you cannot win a title by disqualification, but Commissioner Slaughter then appears to explain that due to the tournament format, regardless of how the victory is achieved that the winners in the championship round was to be crowned the new title holders. Gunn and James are ecstatic as they sprint away from the angered three men in the ring, stopping at the top of the ramp to embrace and raise their newly won titles for all to see.
After this match, we return to the back, where Dok Hendrix waits in the interview area with the Undertaker.
Hendrix: “Well Undertaker, the time has arrived, as up next, you get a chance for the ultimate revenge on Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. Not only have you been the recipient of multiple(At this point, a beaten down, winded, and messy Paul Bearer appears. He gets right in the Undertaker’s face, poking his chest telling him he has made a huge mistake and that the secret is no more. He pulls out the manila envelope and start to pull out the contents, continuing to poke at the “Dead Man” and scream in his face. Just before he reveals the photos, he calls the Undertaker a complete phony and slaps him across the face. Undertaker responds with a right hand that floors his former manager. He then picks up the contents of the envelope, looks at them as Hendrix looks on wide eyed and shocked and then the “Phenom” produces a lighter. “You want to threaten me with hell, fire, and brimstone,” he snorts, “bring it on fat boy, do your worst. You must be forgetting that I am the gatekeeper of hell.” ‘Taker then lights the contents on fire and sets them on the floor to burn. He gives a menacing glance to Hendrix, who backs away in fear. Walking away, ‘Taker says, “Now, I have a title to go win back.”
We next see the detailed promo piece hyping the triple threat match once again, before each participant is introduced and we are ready for our main event. Just before the bell is set to ring, once again, commissioner Slaughter comes to the ramp. He informs the crowd and the participants that since tempers are running high and that this one is so personal and especially following the controversial dq win in the tag tournament, that he is making this bout a no disqualification match. He then waves to the electric crowd and heads to the back as the referee signals for the bell.
Match- Triple Threat, No Disqualification, WWF Championship Match- WWF Champion, Bret Hart vs. the Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (with Rick Rude)- This match starts out with a bang, as the Undertaker floors Bret first and then HBK, with one punch each. He then deposits Michaels over the top rope and begins working over the champion. “It looks like the Undertaker isn’t wasting anytime tonight,” observes J.R., as the “Dead Man” slings Bret in and hits a big boot to the face. Seeing Michaels returning, he then turns and sprints his way, catching him with an elbow that sends him flying all the way to from the apron to the steel barricade, ribs first. Staying on top of the Hitman, Undertaker scoops him and hits a side walk slam for an early two count, Before again yanking him up and hurling him sternum first off the turnbuckle two consecutive times. A running elbow drop is enough for another two count. Undertaker then again turns toward HBK and readies to make a dive to the outside when Rude steps in the way. ‘Taker stops and demands he moves, but the “Ravishing One” does not budge. Instead, the ‘Taker senses Bret getting to his feet and coming behind him and he turns with a vicious uppercut that again sends the champ to the mat. Staying on the offensive, he bounces off the ropes, when Rude reaches in and trips him up. A furious ‘Taker turns to Rude, but before he grabs a hold of him, Commissioner Slaughter again comes to the ramp and announces that Rick Rude has until the count of ten to leave the ringside area or Shawn Michaels will be removed from this title match. After putting up a brief argument, Rude obeys and returns to the dressing room, as an already battered HBK looks at his “Insurance Policy” walking away in disarray. ‘Taker slides out and grabs Shawn by the back of his hair as he watches his departing friend, bouncing him face first off the guard rail three times in a row. He then scoops Michaels in a bear hug and runs him spine first into the ring post, backing up and then repeating the crippling maneuver. As Michaels begs for mercy, the Undertaker grabs a nearby chair and clangs it shut, knocking in on the floor twice before raising it up a crashing it across the back of Michaels. “All those chair shots that the “Phenom” took, accident or not, it’s time for some sweet revenge right now and Shawn Michaels is pleading with him to stop,” explains Ross, as ‘Taker brings the steel down over HBK’s back three more times in a row before dropping the weapon. With all his focus on Shawn, Undertaker seems to have forgotten the Hitman, who sneaks around the corner of the ring and chop blocks the left leg of the Undertaker, taking him down in what looks like an ugly fall. Hart pounces quickly, grabbing the same chair, and bringing the point of it down on ‘Taker’s knee five times in a row, before shuffling over and doing the same to Michaels/ It is now the “Hitman” in complete control as he alternates smacking the steel off the back of the “Deadman” and the “Boy Toy” showing no mercy for either. “Bret is like a man possessed all of a sudden,” adds McMahon, as Bret rolls both his opponents back into the ring. He continues to work over a leg on each man, hustling to drop two elbows on Undertaker’s outstretched limb and the giving HBK the same treatment. He scoops up both men, one at a time a whips them to the buckle. ‘Taker hits chest first and falls with his legs straddling the ring post and Shawn flips up over backwards and then lands in a similar spot. Still moving as quickly as possible, Bret wraps Undertakers leg around the post after scurrying to the outside and then does the same to Shawn. He rushes back over and locks a figure four around the post on the “Phenom,” laying back on it and really wrenching it in. “It doesn’t matter how big and bad you are or how pissed one man can get if you have a broken leg,” notes J.R. Seemingly losing focus on his two way attack though, Bret gives the ever resilient HBK too long, and when he gets his wind back, Shawn picks up a chair and sprints toward the wide open Hitman who still has the move locked around the post. Michaels leaves his feet and puts the chair in front of his feet, dropkicking it into the face of Hart, breaking the hold. Writhing in pain, Undertaker too rolls to the outside, right next to Bret. Seeing both opponents slowly getting up, it is high risk time for Michaels, as he springboards from the apron with his back to his adversaries and catapaults backwards off the ropes, wiping both men out with a spectacular moonsault press to the floor. This takes a lot out of all three men, but somehow the Undertaker climbs up using the apron first. He gasps hard , trying to catch his breath and leans against the ring post as he does so. Michaels sees him disoriented and again takes a risk, but this time it backfires as he leaps and ‘Taker moves, with Shawn’s head meeting the steel ring post and busting him open in the process. Undertaker, seeing the blood, opens the wound up with a series of stiff rights to the forehead, before slinging HBK over his shoulder and dropping him again face first, this time on the steel ring steps. As Shawn lays limp, half on the steps and half on the floor, the “Dead Man” again goes for a chair, looking to once again get payback for the multiple times his skull was cracked by the same weapon in recent times. As HBK looks up, Undertaker takes a vicious swing, but luckily Shawn ducks out of the way. As he drops the chair, the Hitman returns to the fray, jumping on ‘Taker’s back and locking a sleeper hold. Undertaker begins to fade, but scores with a few elbows to break the hold before fully passing out. As he is weakened though, Bret again goes to the leg, hitting another chop block, before hurrying to put the “Dead Man’s” ankle in between the two sides of a chair. Once set up, Bret stomps on the end of the chair three times in a row, appearing to break the ankle of his huge challenger. “Man, Bret Hart is like a shark tasting blood in the water,” Ross compares, “he very well may have just broken a man’s ankle.” In the meantime, Michaels has snuck back in the ring, and as Bret goes to the apron, Shawn meets him and attempts a suplex back into the ring. When he does though, Bret rolls over his back and pulls both his legs out from under him when landing, twisting seamlessly into the sharpshooter. As the blood pours from Michaels’ head, the announcers question how much longer HBK can lose that amount of blood and not pass out. In desperation, the Undertaker hops his way back into the ring and with his one good leg, puts his heel to the mouth of Bret, breaking the hold. Once again, we now have all three men sprawled out, when somehow as the officials count reaches seven, Undertaker sits up and at the same time, unbelievably, Michaels nips up and slings his blood soaked hair back. They exchange a glance and the both start laying boots into Bret. As Michaels mounts the champ and blasts him with repeated rights, Undertaker retrieves the chair. Bret finally pushes Shawn off and when he does, it leaves him open for the Undertaker, who when he gets up slaps his hand to the throat of the WWF Champ. ‘Taker spikes Bret with a chokeslam and turns and signals for the tombstone. He turns and slings Bret over his shoulder, pivots, and just as he is about to spike him, he catches “Sweet Chin Music” right in the jaw. With both men down, Shawn first tries to cover Bret, who kicks out. He the covers ‘Taker and he too kicks out. Frustrated, Michaels quickly grabs the nearby chair and as he smacks it off the corner, readying to use it, ‘Taker sits up again and slides out to quickly grab a chair himself. The slowest to rise again, Bret does not realize when he rises that he is directly between both men, who are cocked and ready to bash him with the chairs. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees the Undertaker swinging the steel, but does not notice Michaels approaching behind. At the last instance, he ducks the ‘Taker chairshot, which instead smacks HBK right between the eyes and knocks him completely unconscious. Bret tries to quickly cover Shawn, but Undertaker has none of it, walloping him over the back with three straight chair shot that has Bret now begging for the “Phenom” to stop. As Bret looks up at the Undertaker as he is on both knees, he literally begs him to not finish him off with the chair. Having absolutely no compassion, the Undertaker rears back, but just when he does, the arena lights go black. They stay that way for a few moments and some commotion can be seen as they flicker for a split second which is just long enough to see the silhouette of a large body that appears to be delivering a tombstone. After two split second flickers, there is another two to three second of darkness before a loud bang is heard and once again, flames shoot from all four corners of the ring. Right after this explosion, the lights return and a confused “Hitman” pounces on top of the Undertaker when the referee jumps into position for the three count, giving the win to Bret, who remains the WWF Champion. “What a match. I do not know who or what just happened, but it would appear someone just manhandled the Undertaker of the likes we have never seen anyone do before and then whoever it was vanished in a literal flash,” explains J.R. “Shawn Michaels is a bloody pulp, the Undertaker beat the hell out of HBK and the “Hitman,” but he is out like a light, and somehow, Bret Hart has retained the WWF Championship. We have a new Intercontinental Champion, we have new WWF tag Team Champions, and we are back on USA tomorrow night at our regularly scheduled time.” Ross then concludes the program, saying, “We are out of time here folks, I want to thank you all for again letting us come “In Your House,” for “Ground Zero,” we will try and make heads or tails of all this tomorrow night on Raw.”
This marks the end of Part VIII of the story. Moving along into Part IX, we will continue to explore the current title reign of Bret Hart, which will take an unexpected turn soon, not necessarily due to any in ring action, but to a bombshell decision that is to be dropped on him behind closed doors. We will continue to explore the evolution of Shawn Michaels’ new faction as we still are unsure of the identity of at least two masked men that would seem to be on his side and from what he has laid out possibly more unidentified parties that are on his team. The Undertaker and Paul Bearer saga has seemed to take another twist in the road as the “Dead Man” has seemingly decide to face whatever demons his former manager has threatened to unveil from his past and this will no doubt come to a head as we move forward. The continuing rise of many of the lower and mid card members of the roster and several big question marks with in the current factions in the Federation will also be answered over the course of these final parts and we will even be taking a look at some of the on goings “behind the scenes” as the writing style of the tale is set to change somewhat as we get near the payoff of our story that has continued to explore the question “What if Shawn Michaels never lost his smile.”