TJR Retro: WWF King of the Ring 1997 Review (Undertaker vs. Faarooq, Austin vs. Michaels)

This was the fifth year in a row where WWE did their King of the Ring event in June. By this point, there were PPVs every month although some shows were just two hours long like the previous two months.

One of the matches that was penciled in for this show was a WrestleMania XII rematch between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. However, Hart was out of the ring for a couple of months after knee surgery, so it was unable to take place. In its place is the first ever PPV meeting between Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin in a battle between babyface tag team champions that are not friends. This would also be Michaels’ first PPV match since January’s Royal Rumble because he was on the shelf for four months with knee surgery. Remember the “losing my smile” thing? Yeah, this was all part of that.

The WWF Title was on The Undertaker, who had successful title defenses in the previous two months against Mankind and Steve Austin respectively. This time his opponent would be Faarooq although it wasn’t much of a feud.

Also at the show was the King of the Ring tournament featuring Mankind, Jerry Lawler, Triple H and Ahmed Johnson. The winner was obvious going in, at least to those of us in the know.

I believe I wrote this originally around 2007 or so. Now that you’re all set up with the stories leading up to the show, let’s get to it.

King of the Ring
Providence Civic Center in Providence, Rhode Island
June 8, 1997

The announcers are Vince McMahon and Jim Ross as Vinny Mac also introduces us to the Spanish and French commentators. Sadly, no “Arriba” from Tito Santana.

King of the Ring Semifinal #1: Ahmed Johnson vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/Chyna
The winner of this match takes on the winner of the next semifinal match to determine the King of the Ring. Johnson’s out first to a huge pop while Hunter (who is a few months away from being Triple H) gets booed. One of the bad things about re-doing old PPVs? Having to re-watch Ahmed Johnson matches. Either that or staring at Chyna’s grill. Good move by her to get all the surgeries she did.

Johnson shoves Helmsley down at the start to show off his power. Vince just said Helmsley knows the technical aspects of the game (of wrestling). Johnson whips him hard in the buckle, then chokes him and military presses him into a gorilla slam. Hunter rakes his eyes, whips him in and Johnson comes back with a clothesline, which is one of his four moves. There’s a bodyslam from Ahmed as he breaks out his entire arsenal. An elbow attempt misses so Hunter chucks him outside, then whips him back first into the steps. Baseball slide drop kick by Helmsley. I love the Vince and JR announcing duo because Vince doesn’t know any move names while JR is doing his best to cover for him as well as get the characters over. “Helmsley goes up, will he, yes, cover for two.” That’s Vince announcing a top rope elbow smash by Hunter leading to a pin attempt. Johnson comes back, bouncing off the ropes and hits a scissors kick to the back followed by a back body drop. Another whip in, then one of the worst spinebusters I’ve ever seen. How do you screw up a spot as simple as a spinebuster? Just ask Ahmed Johnson! Chyna distracts Ahmed, Hunter gathers himself, charges in with a knee to the back and finishes him off with the Pedigree for the pinfall.
Winner by pinfall @ 7:42 – Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Analysis: 1/4* Horrible match, which is pretty much the norm for any match involving Ahmed Johnson.

After the match, Ahmed ran after Hunter and I’m going to guess he stopped at the buffet table considering what would become of him.

Backstage, Sunny and Honky Tonk Man are telling us to call the Superstar line. What a waste of Sunny, who was in her physical prime at this point.

King of the Ring Semifinal #2: Mankind vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler
Mankind was morphing into a babyface after a year of being a heel. He misses Paul Bearer, who is now back with the Undertaker. He cuts a promo ripping on Lawler, but then also joking about himself, which became a staple of his humor style. Lawler comes down the aisle with a microphone ripping on fans and his opponent, which became a staple of his ring entrances.

Mankind beats on him with fists outside of the ring, as well as some eye gouging. In the ring, he hits him with a back elbow. Lawler stalls, then reaches in his tights and hits Mankind in the head with it a couple times although we never really see what it is. Bulldog from Lawler, which kinda surprised me, to be honest. They go outside as the “Burger King” chants pick up and Lawler hits him with whatever his foreign object is. He bites the half ear of Mankind just for fun. Vince McMahon just called him Jerry Lawler “The Master of Chicanery,” which is thankfully a nickname that didn’t stick. Mankind sets him up against the steel steps, Lawler moves out of the way and Mankind goes headfirst into the steps. Then Lawler whips the back of his head into the steel railing twice as we get an example of why Mick Foley wouldn’t wrestle much into his 30s. Lawler hits a piledriver on the floor to absolutely no reaction, but Mankind gets up so Lawler hits a dropkick to send him back out. Mankind gets back in the ring, but Lawler’s still in control and hits another piledriver (to no reaction again) for just a two count. JR tries to claim that Lawler was too lazy in his cover. Lawler does another punch with his foreign object that we still haven’t seen. Mankind comes back with punches, a legdrop and his running knee into the corner that is a spot I’ve always loved. Backdrop for Mankind, but Lawler comes back with a leg trip followed by his fist drop off the second rope. Crowd is dead for Lawler’s offense. Piledriver attempt, but Mankind powers out of it and finishes Lawler off with the Mandible Claw for the submission win. He goes on to face Hunter Hearst Helmsley in the finals.
Winner by submission @ 10:23 – Mankind

Analysis: * Mankind took some of his usual crazy bumps and the crowd got behind him, which was something new for him at this point. Nobody believed Lawler had a chance here, which isn’t a surprise because he was a part timer.

There’s Ken Shamrock typing away on a computer. WWE has its own website now, says Vince. “Very interactive!” I love how cheesy Vince is as an announcer.

Backstage, Brian Pillman takes credit for starting the Austin/Michaels problems that led to their match. Then we see Steve Austin behind him. Austin beats the crap out of Pillman, taking him into the washroom and putting Pillman’s head into the toilet, which conveniently has a camera above it! Amazing how that happens.

Analysis: This was a classic Austin moment and things like this are part of the reason why he became such a big star.

Crush w/Nation Members vs. Goldust w/Marlena
Crush is out first with five black men as part of the Nation of Domination, one of whom is D’Lo Brown before he got his break as an active wrestler. Goldust is the good guy here with Marlena, as Vince and JR try to get over how he’s gotten over problems in his life to get here too. Basically the same thing as Mankind, which was the WWF’s attempt to make their characters more “real” during this time period.

Crush beats on him with fists to start, which is basically all of his offense, but Goldust comes back ramming his head into the steps, then hits the ten punches in the corner of the ring including a kiss just for fun. He hits a clothesline for two, then gets a swinging neckbreaker for another two. Crush gets the advantage with a hard irish whip into the corner, then a spinning belly to belly suplex. He works over the kidneys of Goldust with you guessed it…fists. Bodyslam attempt by Goldust fails as Crush lands on top of him for two, which is followed by a backbreaker for two. Crush decides to slow this already slow match with a reverse chinlock. This lasts literally for over four minutes. Goldust fights back with some fists, charges into the ropes and is caught by Crush who gives him a gorilla slam into the knee for a gutbuster. That’s a cool move at least. JR tries to get us to care about Goldust by telling us he used to watch him play football as a kid. Goldust comes back with punches, a clothesline and then some Dusty-like style moves to put Crush on his back. The Nation boys, including D-Lo, taunt Marlena as Goldust hits a bulldog on Crush. He goes outside the ring, hits D-Lo and Crush cheapshots him. Back in the ring, Goldust hits a nice looking DDT for the pinfall victory.
Winner by pinfall @ 9:56 – Goldust

Analysis: 1/2* Very bad. It was an awful match with the lone highlight being Marlena whenever the camera was on her. I’m trying to be positive here!

Here’s Sable to try to sell us an inflatable King of the Ring chair that’s $59.99 plus another $11 shipping. People really would pay that much money for that? More proof that people are idiots. I guess they had time to kill with this segment.

Backstage, Dok Hendrix talks to Hawk, Animal and Sid as they prepare for their upcoming match. Lots of yelling.

Backstage, Todd Pettengill talks to Bulldog, Owen and Neidhart as they prepare for the match. Owen’s still got his Slammy’s, he rules. I love the Anvil’s laugh.

Owen Hart, British Bulldog & Jim Neidhart vs. The Legion of Doom & Sycho Sid
It’s kind of sad that when you look at this match you realize that three of the six men involved in it have passed away. The Harts are out first followed by the babyface team to some nice ovations. Definitely a good crowd at this show.

Animal starts out with Owen doing power moves much to his delight because Owen sells tremendously well. After a slingshot into the corner, Animal gets a spinning powerslam for two. Sid comes in with a double axe handle followed by a shoulderblock, which leads Owen to tag in Bulldog. Delayed suplex on Sid, who then pops right up and clotheslines everybody. Sid tags in Hawk while Bulldog tags in Anvil. If you’re wondering, he got that nickname because he won an anvil tossing competition in Calgary back in the ’80s. Hawk gets a top rope clothesline for two. Bulldog comes in, he gets a piledriver on Hawk, who then pops up right away. I guess nobody wanted to sell for Bulldog on this night. Owen tags in, hitting a spinning wheel kick on Animal. Anvil beats on him outside with a chair, then slingshots into Animal with a shoulderblock. Anvil’s in, Animal rolls him up, but Bulldog distracts the ref so he can’t see it. Owen gets in there with a nice missile dropkick. The Harts triple team Animal in the corner. Tag in to Bulldog, double clothesline and then Animal catches him off the middle rope with a powerslam. Bulldog comes back with a suplex off the middle rope for two. Anvil works over Animal with shoulderblocks and then a reverse chinlock. Hart comes in, hitting a shoulderblock to the ribs and then a neckbreaker gets two. Hart slaps on the sleeper, which Animal fights out of to tag in Hawk for the hot tag. Bodyslam on Owen, then a missed clothesline and Bulldog comes in with a slam of his own. Hawk fights out of a double clothesline to hot tag in Sid, who is hitting everything that moves. Big boot to Owen while LOD takes care of the others. Sid gets a chokeslam on Bulldog. Owen’s on the top, he’s the legal man, and he comes off the top with a sunset flip onto Sid as he’s attempting to powerbomb Bulldog. His hands slip a bit, but Sid eventually falls into it for the three count.
Winners by pinfall @ 13:37 – Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart & British Bulldog

Analysis: *1/2 Lots of sloppiness in this match aside from when Owen was in there. Guys popping out of Bulldog’s big moves made it even worse. You could tell there wasn’t a lot of good chemistry in this one.

We see a video package about Steve Austin from when he won the King of the Ring tournament the previous year.

Backstage, Mankind’s in a lot of pain, but he can’t wait to be king.

King of the Ring Finals: Mankind vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/Chyna
Mankind’s out first followed by Hunter with the thing known as Chyna. They showed clips of how they won their matches earlier in the night. I still chuckle every time I see Hunter do the stupid bow when he gets in the ring considering his status in the business today.

They start out slowly with some posturing until Mankind elbows him in the head to work him over. Mankind goes for the claw about two minutes in only for Hunter to bail to the floor before he could do it. JR asks Vince if Helmsley has tried to buy the WWF, Vince says no and when JR asks if it’s for sale Vince busts out the trademark Vince laugh. I guess that was some inside joke. Mankind works him over in the corner, but Hunter slips under and drops him face first onto the top turnbuckle pad. He takes control with a swinging neckbreaker followed by some eye raking. He continues to work on the neck of Mankind by draping it over the ropes. He gets a clothesline to slow down a comeback attempt by Mankind, then pounds him down with fists in the corner. Chyna hits him with a forearm, the ref admonishes her and Mankind gets a back kick to the nuts that JR calls a Golota. That’s a reference to the boxer famous for hitting Riddick Bowe in the nuts on more than one occasion. Mankind gets his head stuck in the ropes, fights out of that and then does his usual array of sick head bumps out on the floor. Back in the ring, Helmsley hits a couple of running knee drops to the back of the head. Foley drops Helmsley head first across the ropes on two occasions for a couple of two counts. He props up Hunter in the corner, then hits his running knee into the corner. The crowd has considerably quieted down because the pace has been really slow. Hunter gets thrown upside down into the corner and then Mankind tosses him to the floor. He counters a Hunter charge with a back body drop to the floor. Running elbow off the apron onto Hunter although it did not look pretty. Double arm DDT, but Chyna’s on the apron doing nothing as the ref goes over there. A couple of seconds later he goes over for the delayed two count. Pedigree attempt is countered by a Mandible Claw. He’s near the ropes, so Chyna pulls him out to the floor. Hunter hits a neckbreaker using the ropes in a sick looking spot, then he rips off the Mankind mask. He goes to the top even though he never goes to the top and Mankind puts the Mandible Claw on him. Atomic drop followed by a clothesline gets a two for Mankind. The Cactus clothesline sends them both out to the floor. Hunter’s on the floor, so Mankind goes on the apron and jumps backwards into him. Chyna pulls Hunter away and not surprisingly Mankind hits the back of his head into the railing. This guy is nuts. More head bumps as Hunter whips him into the ring steps with the back of his head crashing into them. Pedigree onto the English announce table. I guess these were the days before the Spanish table was chronically punished. They’re both up within like five seconds, which is probably too fast after a spot like that, and with the ref yelling at Hunter it allows Chyna to crack Mankind in the back with the King of the Ring scepter. Correction, the steel scepter! Everything is steel. Hunter knees him off the apron into a photographer. That was funny looking. Back in the ring, Hunter covers with one hand as Mankind kicks out at two. He gets picked up and eats a Pedigree for the pinfall.
Winner by pinfall @ 19:25 – Hunter Hearst Helmsley

Post match, Hunter beat on Mankind with the crown. Mankind crawled on hands and knees up the aisle to show just how courageous he was.

For those that don’t know, Hunter was supposed to win KOTR in 1996, but that changed when he participated in the hug at Madison Square Garden with Shawn Michaels as they said goodbye to Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Vince didn’t like that, so Hunter was punished by losing a lot in 1996 and he got his chance to be King here.

Analysis: **3/4 The first 15 minutes were really slow, almost too slow for the audience, but the last five were incredibly brutal with Mankind taking some really sick bumps. They would have many more matches in the future, including at the next two PPV events, and almost all of them would be better than this one.

We see a video package showing how the Shawn Michaels-Steve Austin match came about. Michaels was out for four months with a knee injury (some would say he faked it) and when he came back he targeted the heel Hart Foundation group. His first match back in May saw him team up with Austin to take the tag titles from Owen and Bulldog in one of the best Raw matches ever. Post match, the Hart Foundation beat the crap out of Michaels while Austin left ringside and beat up Bret Hart, who was in a wheelchair to sell his knee injury. They teamed up again and then fought with eachother, so this match was made between the two current tag team champions.

Prior to the match, Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation are in the ring. Bret was out of action for a couple months with knee surgery. Bret cuts a promo saying he’d be back at the Canadian Stampede PPV in Calgary with the Hart Foundation. Bret wants five wrestlers to take on his team. Bret says payback time is coming for all of you American wrestling fans. Bret wants to be the color commentator, but the officials led by Gerald Brisco come out to send them to the back. I love watching Pillman go nuts.

Backstage, Austin says if Michaels forces him to turn up the violent factor he’s going to do just that. We see Austin walking to the ring backstage as all the Hart’s are being held back by officials. Huge pop for Austin coming out as Vince wonders why he has become such a favorite.

Backstage, Shawn doesn’t know what’s going to happen because it’s his partner and he wants to keep the team going. He comes out to a huge ovation just as Austin did.

Analysis: When this match happened I was very excited to see it. Over the years they’ve become my two favorite wrestlers ever, so believe me when I tell you I love this one. This is the first and only PPV singles match between these two guys prior to the major injuries that they would suffer soon after.

Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin

There’s trash talking to start including Austin making fun of his tights. He knocks him down with a shoulderblock, then the middle fingers. There’s a Special Olympics child at ringside who Michaels went to help up, but Austin attacked him over there. In the ring, Michaels knocked Austin down and gave him the fingers. The child fell over the railing apparently, so Michaels helps him up the aisle along with security. Austin winds him up with arm wringers, then Michaels takes him down with a side headlock. Austin fights out and hits an elbow on Michaels as he bounces off the ropes, then he does the Michaels flex pose. Ha, that was great. Michaels slows him down with a side headlock again. Man, JR really tried to get over the backgrounds of each guy talking about their training, their fathers and various other things. After a great sequence of rope running, Austin catches Michaels, hits an atomic drop and clotheslines him out to the floor. Suplex attempt back in is countered by Michaels into a rollup for two. After Michaels slows him down with an armbar, Austin bails to the floor to get away. They do a test of strength in ring, Austin stomps him down, Michaels comes back and hits a nice back body drop for two. They each miss elbow drops, then Michaels grabs another armbar. Another great rope running sequence ends with Austin hitting the Thesz press followed by a lot of fists. He goes for more, but Michaels rolls him up. Austin gets two, kick out, Michaels gets two, kick out, Austin gets two, bridging sequence. Austin wins the power battle and chucks Michaels over the top to the floor in a sick bump. What a fantastic sequence that was. Keep in mind those pinning reversals weren’t done in WWE at this time, so that was pretty awesome for its time and even today in my opinion. Austin works over the neck on the top rope, then clotheslines Michaels in the back and Shawn goes neck first into the railing like he was channeling Randy Savage.

Austin pulls the mat up off the floor on the outside, exposing the concrete floor and then drops Shawn neck first onto the railing again. He rolls back in the ring to break the count and comes back as they exchanged fists on the concrete. Austin whips him hard into the steps and then drops him stomach press onto the concrete floor. Back in the ring, Austin ducks the flying forearm of Michaels. Austin goes to grab him, Michaels hits a rollup for two. Austin comes back with a hard clothesline for two. Austin hits the middle rope elbow drop without the middle fingers for two. JR says you won’t find two superstars at the top of their game like Austin and Michaels in this match right here. And he’s absolutely right. They were both in their early 30s at this time with a lot of experience in the ring, so you could definitely say they were in their prime. Austin grabs a chinlock while using the ropes for leverage. They exchanged firsts, Michaels hits a shoulderblock and chucks Austin over the top. Baseball slide by Michaels as the crowd is going nuts. Now Michaels goes for a suplex back in, but Austin is able to slide out and Michaels bounces off the ropes with the flying forearm followed by the kip up. Back body drop by Michaels, then an atomic drop and hard whip into the corner. He charges in, but Austin moves out of the way and Shawn’s shoulder goes right into the ringpost. What a great bump. Whip into the corner, Michaels spingboards off the middle ropes with a crossbody block for two. Austin clotheslines him for two. He whips him in and Shawn does the upside down bump into the corner. Austin goes for a whip, Michaels counters it into one of his own and Austin goes right into referee Tim White. Michaels goes for a superkick, Austin catches it, kick to the gut and the Stunner although not the lightning-quick one that he would later use. He covers, but there’s no ref to count as most of the crowd boos. He gets White back up, then gives a Stunner to White. He turns around and Michaels drills him with a Superkick as all the high pitched screamers, aka the girls and kids, approve. He covers, but now there’s no ref to count. Referee Mike Chioda comes in to check on Tim White rather than count the fall. Michaels is pissed, so when Chioda turns around Michaels superkicks him. He goes over to Austin while Tim White gets in position, covers and Austin kicks out at two. Here comes Earl Hebner, who DQ’s both guys for assaulting the refs. Nobody likes that finish.
Match Ruled a Double Disqualification @ 22:29

Post match, Michaels argues with Hebner while Austin went to cheapshot Michaels from behind with one of the tag belts, but Shawn saw it coming. The ring gets filled with officials as each guy poses to the delight of their fans. They argue their way up the aisle giving eachother dirty looks as they go.

Analysis: ****1/4 I loved this match then and I think I love it more now because this was their only PPV match when they were both fairly healthy. You have to appreciate how good they were here. The action was incredible, the crowd was hot and they really worked a back and forth match with neither man in complete control. Austin worked as the heel for it while Michaels did his usual awesome babyface comeback. The booking’s frustrating from the standpoint that you want to see a winner, but I understand it now as I did then because they knew this was a future PPV main event and they had to protect both guys. This would be the definition of an evenly booked match. Awesome job by both guys.

Backstage, Todd Pettengill interviews Farooq with the Nation, who consists of Crush, Savio Vega, D’Lo Brown, Clarence Mason and a couple of other dudes. Faarooq says he’ll be the first black champion in WWF history.

Faarooq is out first with the Nation. What were his odds of winning this match? About 1000 to 1. Nobody thought he had a chance, nor should they have.

Backstage, Dok Hendrix is backstage with The Undertaker, who is back with Paul Bearer because he has a secret hanging over his head. His secret is a big, red, machine-like one for those that don’t know.

The Undertaker gets a massive pop, which is no surprise. This was my favorite year of the Undertaker’s career. He was surrounded by great workers (Faarooq was not one of them) to have matches with and he delivered more often than not. JR talks about Faarooq being a four time collegiate All-American football player, but never refers to him as Ron Simmons. I never understood why they gave him that stupid name in the first place. I guess because it’s more appropriate for a gang leader than Ron Simmons is, but it’s not exactly a marketable name either.

WWF Heavyweight Championship: The Undertaker (c) vs. Faarooq
Faarooq opens up with some punching in the corner, but Undertaker overpowers and beats on him in the corner. Taker bounces off the corner with a clothesline. Big boot followed by a hard throat punch gets him two. Now JR mentions his name was Ron Simmons. Whip into the ropes, Faarooq hits a powerslam for two. Now the boys of the Nation beat on Undertaker as D’Lo distracts the ref. Undertaker comes back with another boot, then the arm wringer leading to the old school clothesline…no, he just jumped off the top rope with a crossbody onto the Nation! That was pretty cool, I don’t even remember that. For good measure, he beats them all up and then drops Faarooq’s neck over the top rope as he gets back into the ring. Now he goes for the old school clothesline again and the Nation members trip him up so he got crotched on the top rope. Faarooq hits a suplex for two, then Undertaker’s up with a clothesline. Faarooq hits a blatant low blow and Hebner was looking right at it, yet he does nothing and the announcers even ignore it. The Nation beats on Taker some more. He throws Undertaker out to the floor, grabs the steps and Undertaker boots them right back into Faarooq’s face. Back in the ring, Undertaker works him over, but Faarooq counters it and hits a beautiful looking piledriver that gets him two. The fans start chanting “Rest in Peace” because it’s classy to do. Faarooq gets a reverse chinlock with his feet on the ropes. Undertaker counters when he gets to his feet with something resembling a jawbreaker. His splash attempt is countered by knees to the gut by Faarooq. Undertaker counters a piledriver with a back body drop, then misses a legdrop. Whip in, Faarooq slows him down with a knee and leaps off the top rope only to be caught by Undertaker into a spinning powerslam. Undertaker bounces off the ropes, leaps in the air for his spinning clothesline, but Faarooq ducks and Taker crashes down hard. Very slow match at this point. Now for some reason Crush and Savio start fighting while Faarooq bodyslams Undertaker, then yells at them to stop. He turns around, then walks right into the Tombstone piledriver for the one, two, three.
Winner via pinfall @ 13:43 – The Undertaker

Analysis: ** It was just an average match. The best part of the match was Undertaker’s awesome leap onto the Nation off the top. Other than that, this was just a regular match with little in the way of psychology, storyline or any real doubt as to who the winner would be.

Post match, Savio’s in to eat a chokeslam from Taker and so is Crush. Then Paul Bearer tells him to chokeslam Faarooq, so he does that too. Then he does it two more times because Bearer orders him to. Here comes Ahmed Johnson out to ask what he’s doing. I guess Ahmed has a respect for Faarooq after their battles. Undertaker goes to punch him, so Johnson hits him with a Pearl River Plunge. Fans boo Johnson out of the ring. Undertaker sits up, then stares down Bearer as the crowd goes nuts wanting him to beat him up. The show ends with Undertaker scaring him up the aisle.

Analysis: It was not a strong ending, but The Undertaker standing tall made the fans happy.


Three Stars of the Night
1. Steve Austin – It was tough to pick between him and Michaels, but I’ll give him the nod because the flushing of Pillman’s head was freakin’ classic.

2. Shawn Michaels – Part of the reason why people think he faked the knee injury was because he was so good immediately after he came back. This match was an example of that.

3. Mankind – Some of the bumps he took here were insane, which is something we obviously got used to with him. It was a good show in terms of building him up as a babyface character.

Final Thoughts
On the 1-10 scale I’ll give this show a: 4 – A below average show that’s not worth going out of your way to see although I do highly recommend the Austin/Michaels match.

This was an awful show except for the Michaels/Austin match, which to me is must viewing for any wrestling fan that wants to see just how good they were before their major injuries (Austin’s neck and Michaels’ back). Both men were really good after their injuries, but this one’s still special to me.

With Bret Hart out with his injury, as well as Vader with his injury, the thin roster the company had at this time really showed. Undertaker was left to wrestle a guy in Faarooq that nobody believed would be the champion. That’s never a good thing when you have to sell people on a PPV title match.

One of the things I loved is how you got to hear from the competitors right before their big matches. I wish they did that more often in today’s wrestling. It’s a good way to get fans more excited for the matches.

Thanks for reading!