View single post by tamalie
 Posted: Tue Oct 8th, 2019 09:08 pm
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tamalie

 

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I really enjoyed the WWF for the most part in 1997 too. While a lot of credit is given to the build to WM14 with Mike Tyson for focusing attention on the WWF and the promotion passing WCW in the Monday Night Wars shortly after, the creative revival in the WWF started over a year beforehand with the move to the Raw Is War format. There was bad stuff clogging up the middle of the card with the gang wars junk and the tag team division being stuck in the mud until late in the year when the New Age Outlaws suddenly and rather unexpectedly caught fire by being jerk heels rather than the sing along babyfaces they'd later become. However, the good stuff worked well enough to overcome those problems or at least make them easier to tolerate.

Steve Austin was on fire. Undertaker hit the groove of having great matches now that he got to work with guys like Michaels instead of big goons like Yokozuna and Mabel. Mick Foley came into his own in the WWF. USA vs. Canada was on fire. They had the guts to drop the white hat babyface thing for Rocky Maivia and turn him heel and then had more guts by letting him become The Rock a little more each week until post Montreal he was ready to step up instead of insisting on keeping him in his original role and pushing him despite clear fan resistance. Hunter was far from the finished product, but got to move away from the blue blood gimmick towards his D-X persona and adding Chyna in her original scary form to his act was big for both of them. There were early moves to use hardcore wrestling with it treated seriously instead of as undercard comedy with prelim guys hitting each other with cookie sheets while JR and Lawler laughed it up. The short lived ECW invasion occurred which was pretty exciting for the brief time it went on until ending without resolution. They had something different in Ken Shamrock even if they didn’t know what to do with him. Goldust had a strange year, but was always interesting. Sunny was still Sunny and Sable got over big to start the Diva thing.

By comparison, I think WCW was rapidly losing momentum and starting to drift creatively as early as the spring of 1997. The promotion was helped by getting the United States and TV titles to guys like Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, Jericho, UItimo Dragon, and so on, but the Tag Team Title was terribly misused for much of the year and the promotion seemed stuck about how to end the NWO angle or even whether to end it which put Sting in the rafters for far too long. As big as Starrcade ’97 was, getting him into the ring with Hogan by Bash At The Beach (one year after the turn) or at Fall Brawl (one year after Sting turned his back on WCW) would have been more effective. Randy Savage’s decision to join the NWO was never fully explained despite early signs he was aligned with Sting and only going in to get Elizabeth out, then suddenly was a heel and willing member. The promotion had Bret Hart handed to them on a silver platter when he was molten hot after Montreal and immediately messed it up. Even the idea that Larry Zbyszko was fighting Scott Hall for control of Nitro was kind of ridiculous when many a WCW midcard guy in his prime could have benefitted from that spot instead of a retired wrestler turned announcer. WCW was begging the WWF to catch up for about a year before it finally happened.