20 YEARS AGO – WWE in House Show in Tacoma, Wash.: Bret rips on Pacific Northwest USA for stealing Canadian salmon, Rockabilly, Pillman, Dude Love, Goldust

Bret Hart (photo credit Mike Lano © PWTorch)

SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

WWE HOUSE SHOW REPORT
AUGUST 28, 1997
TACOMA, WASH. AT THE TACOMA DOME
REPORT BY BRET SIEWERT, PWTORCH CORRESPONDENT

ATTENDANCE: 5,341, $92,020; merchandising $33,484, $6.30 per head.

The show was advertised to begin at 7:30, but nothing really happened until 7:45. The merchandise seemed to be moving slowly, although it seemed everyone wore their Austin 3:16 shirts to the arena. Nothing like seeing kids pay $11 for WWF action figures when they are at the local toy store for $4.99. I guess it’s no different than paying $5 for a beer. British Bulldog came to the ring followed by a camera man. Bulldog gave a long interview (or several takes of a short interview). The house audio was off, so only ringsiders could hear what he was saying.

(1) Rockabilly beat Brakus. I don’t understand what they’re doing pairing Brakus with a heel since he was clearly a snarling heel himself. Stalling, shoulder blocks, one or two bodyslams, and a really pathetic Brakus clothesline over the top rope. In the end the ref missed Brakus’s pin attempt and Rockabilly came back by dropping Brakus face-first over the turnbuckle and pinned him with his legs on the ropes for leverage. At this point Brakus made Mongo look like a polished luchador. The crowd liked him, though. Guest ring announcer was Seattle Seahawk quarterback Warren Moon.

Bret Hart came out. He ranted about the Pacific Northwest stealing Canada’s salmon (Yow! That’s nearly topical!) and said he wasn’t going to wrestle the Patriot for the title later in the night. And even though Sgt. Slaughter wasn’t there, the ring announcer told Bret he had to defend the title. Bret complained a bit more, flipped off the crowd, and left.

(2) The Godwinns beat The Head Bangers after an illegal-man slopdrop by Henry. All comedy. Spit spot, mic work (Phinneous did mention Kurt Cobain making a good decision by committing suicide), and otherwise pretty sloppy work. They were able to wrench the award for most awkward move of the night away from Brakus’s clothesline by executing a huracanrana from the corner that started with Phinneous putting Mosh’s feet on his own shoulders and doing a forward roll out of the ring. Kayfabe alert: Henry gave one fan the DDT Diamond Cutter and self-high-five gesture late in the match.

(3) Vader beat Flash Funk after a Vader Bomb. Vader has dropped some weight and looks better these days (“He’s got a flat butt,” exclaimed the woman next to me.) These two work well together, but the size difference telegraphed the outcome and didn’t show Funk any credible offense. Big pop for a Flash crotch shot on Vader. Vader still can’t make the knee-up defense on the Vader Splash look believable.

(4) British Bulldog beat Dude Love (with “special tonight-only manager” The Wizard). Good match. Wizard did some heel things against heel Bulldog like the always devious sunglasses-as-foreign -object strategy. Lots of outside the ring activities, including shots against the ringpost and ring stairs. Bulldog’s attempt at a chairshot and referee Hebner’s interference led to a VanDaminator ref bump and an eventual Bulldog pinfall.

(5) Goldust beat Brian Pillman. Pillman told Goldust he was going to “wear out” Terri during the 30 days he had her. She wasn’t with Goldust, though. Pillman’s didn’t seem hampered by the ankle at all. It’s funny how Goldust’s kiss of an opponent when he was a heel was sick and disgusting, but now as a face it elicits laughter and applause.

(6) Ken Shamrock beat Owen Hart. Shamrock was way over with the crowd. Having Owen as an opponent lets Shamrock play to his strengths. Lots of mat work with occasional “professional wrestling” moves. Shamrock won with an ankle lock which came across as a feared submission move, probably because Vince wasn’t trying to oversell it.

(7) The Patriot beat Bret Hart via DQ. Bad main event for a house show, could be worse as a PPV main event. Nothing about this was memorable-we’d seen it all before. The only “boring” chant of the night broke out during this match. It had all the spice of cottage cheese on a saltine. Ominous Nitro Foreshadowing: Bret did the Hogan “my-title-belt-is-a-geetar” gesture to several ringsiders’ delight before handing the belt to the ringside official. The crowd was split, but this was started with more stalling than the Brakabilly match as Bret did the, “Ref, he pulled my hair!” routine more times than a Rockabilly. Bret worked on Patriot’s leg and eventually d P the outside figure-four before Patriot made his comeback. Suddenly, we were teleported to TNT as Owen and Bulldog came to ringside and wouldn’t ya know it? They interfered so Patriot won, but Bret retained the title. The audience knew that when the heels run into the ring, you are contractually bound to throw whatever you have in your hand into the ring, so the beverages started flying, and throwees were escorted to the exits by security. If this trend with crowds throwing things continues, maybe it will mark the end of cheap run-in DQ finishes by heels.

Notes: A flat show, two hours long including intermission. The WWF stable is pretty thin these days and this show was evidence. On the last Shotgun before this event, Dok Hendrix was still telling us the main event would be Bret vs. Austin and suggesting that Sid vs. Neidhart was something we should actually pay to see.

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