I am currently in a state of non-stop excitement because this Saturday I will be going to Chikara in Chicago. Chikara is always an amazing time and I have never been let down by a live experience. (This will only be my fourth, but still.) The card always seems to feel packed whenever I go to Chikara and this time is no exception with El Generico in the house, Colt vs Quack II and an awesome Campeones de Parejas match between the Young Bucks and the Spectral Envoy. Oh, and The Mysterious and Handsome Stranger teaming up with a pigeon. This looks like it's going to be a really great show and I am really excited.
In fact, I've had a string of really good shows that I have attended. The three WWE events I attended this year were Elimination Chamber (not the greatest show, but the Elimination Chamber match is the Elimination Chamber match and that Santino/Bryan sequence was worth the price of admission), Wrestlemania (no explanation necessary) and the Raw after Wrestlemania (BORK LASER~). I've also been to two Chikara shows this year, "Ring of Wax" featuring the otherworldly Sara Del Rey vs. El Generico match and "Shoot A Crooked Arrow" which I reviewed over at the Wrestling Blog (summary: it was awesome and Chikara is the best.) I also had tickets to Ring of Honor's Showdown in the Sun Night 1 with Kevin Steen vs. El Generico, but thanks to a shitty concierge and ROH booking a show so far away from Miami I was unable to attend. Even so it's been a pretty awesome year for me watching live wrestling and Saturday should only continue that trend.
It wasn't always like this though. I've seen a lot of good shows, but I've seen some bad ones too and the worst one ever was a WWF TV taping in Chicago at the Rosemont Horizon back in 1997.
For a little background this is when WCW was kicked WWF's ass every single week and WWF's roster was a shell of what it would later become. They had begun to build the product that would later be known as the Attitude era, but it was still a bit soon. People who watched wrestling knew what was going on though.. The Hart Foundation was the hottest thing in wrestling in the summer of 1997 and Stone Cold was on his way to becoming the biggest star in the world. WCW had better wrestling, the nWo and bigger stars, but whenever the Hart Foundation and Stone Cold (and to a lesser extent Shawn Michaels) were on your TV it was better than whatever was on Nitro. I truly believe this. Plus, it wasn't like the wrestling couldn't be good. This was the same year that featured Shawn/Austin vs Owen/Davey in one of the better Raw matches of all time. This was post-Foley's Jim Ross interviews and Shawn Michaels smile being lost, but pre-Montreal, WWF was on the verge of becoming better than WCW and if you were paying attention at the time you noticed it.
With this knowledge in hand I talked my dad into taking me to Rosemont Horizon for a double taping of Friday Night's Main Event which only took place because Raw was pre-empted for two weeks thanks to the US Open. We got to the show after the dark matches, I bought a Hart Foundation t-shirt (that I would later throw away in an ill-advised reaction to Bret Hart on Nitro) and took our seats. Then we watched this show:
Friday Night's Main Event - 8/29/97 - included Jim Ross conducting an in-ring interview with Shawn Michaels in which Michaels brought out the steel chair he used to bloody the Undertaker's head:
Vader (w/ Paul Bearer) defeated WWF World Champion Bret Hart via disqualification at 7:14 when Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith interfered after Vader grabbed a chair; following the match, the Patriot made the save
Goldust (w/ Marlena) pinned Salvatore Sincere at 3:36; after the match, Brian Pillman taunted Goldust by claiming that Goldust & Marlena’s daughter Dakota was his love child
WWF Tag Team Champion Dude Love pinned Rockabilly with the Sweet Shin Music and the double arm DDT
Road Warrior Hawk (w/ Road Warrior Animal) defeated WWF European Champion Davey Boy Smith (w/ Owen Hart) via disqualification after Owen used the Euro title as a weapon
Crush & Chainz fought Farooq & Rocky Maivia to a double count-out at 4:10 after the Nation, Los Boricuas, and DOA interfered
Taka Michinoku pinned Jerry Lynn at 5:24 with the Michinoku Driver
Sniper & Recon (w/ the Jackyl & Interrogator) defeated the Headbangers at 7:02 when Recon pinned Thrasher with a roll up and using the tights after the Interrogator interfered
Friday Night's Main Event - 9/5/97:
The Patriot defeated Owen Hart via disqualification when Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith interfered
Dude Love defeated WWF European Champion Davey Boy Smith via disqualification when Owen Hart interfered as Smith was caught in the Mandible Claw; after the bout, Owen cut a promo about breaking Steve Austin's neck and prepared to do the same to Dude Love with a piledriver before the Legion of Doom made the save
The Undertaker defeated Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna) via disqualification at 4:36 after Shawn Michaels ran to the ring, steel chair in hand; early in the bout, Rick Rude appeared at ringside to distract Taker; after the bout, Taker cleared the ring and hit a chokeslam on a security guard and official
The Legion of Doom defeated Jesus Castillo & Jose Estrada Jr. via disqualification at 2:32 when the Godwinns interfered; after the bout, the LOD fought the Godwinns all the way backstage as the DOA cleared the ring of Los Boricuas
Ken Shamrock defeated Salvatore Sincere via submission with the ankle lock at 5:19
Scott Putski pinned Steve Casey with the Polish Hammer at 3:49
The Interrogator defeated Sonny Rogers & Jerry Fox
Dark match after the taping:
The Undertaker defeated WWF World Champion Bret Hart via disqualification when Owen Hart interfered; the bout was to have also involved WWF IC Champion Steve Austin
For those keeping track there were 7 DQ finishes and one double count out. The only clean finishes involved Salvatore Sincere, light heavyweight guys that had no time (and no buildup), Rockabilly and the Truth Commission, who I can assure you were the absolute worst and painful to watch. It was not a good show. What I remember the most about this event is hearing Dude Love's awful theme song wayyyyyyy too many times. He had two matches here that he won so that's four, but I am pretty sure I remember him making a save where they played his music too. Mick Foley is one of my favorite guys of all time, but that song makes me want to cut my brain into thin slices and place them in the toaster. By the end of the night he was the last guy I wanted to see in the ring. Then we only got to see Austin once (or maybe twice) when he was the reason that 90% of the people were there. I realize this was post-Summerslam and his status was probably up in the air at this point, but still. That crowd was filled with Austin t-shirts and I can remember multiple Austin chants, they should have given us something.
The problem with this show is that WWF didn't care. It was going to air on Friday nights, it was building to an In Your House event that they didn't really care about (Hell in a Cell was obviously awesome, but the undercard is pathetic) and ratings weren't going to be great. The product wasn't the hottest at this time and they knew these shows didn't matter. History has shown that the worst WWF/E shows always come when nobody cares and I learned a valuable lesson with this show to be a bit more choosy when buying my tickets. If they don't care about the show then there is no reason for me to give them my money and I haven't since. (Note: This is a lie. I totally have.) There is just too much good wrestling out there to give your money to the bad stuff. Just say no.
And go to Chikara events.