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[1997-01-19-WWF-Royal Rumble] Shawn Michaels vs Sid

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Last few minutes. We start with Sid powerbombing Shawn on the exposed concrete. Ref bump, visual heel fall … this finishing sequence is a real mess, but the post-match celebration is tremendous. If I remember right, Shawn worked this match with the flu.

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I actually thought this finishing stretch was better than I remembered with the crowd being hotter than on last watch and some cool payback spots with the camera. Shawn also gives a fairly sincere celebration for him and its by far the least annoying he has been so far in 1997.

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With Shawn being the hometown guy they still have the champion Sid enter second. Shawn's parents are no Helen and Stu though mom does seem to be trying to cheer him on at times. Michaels recovered too fast from that powerbomb on the floor. Sid grabs both Lotharios but Pat Patterson saves them. They use the camera finish from Survivor Series which is a good touch. Sid takes a wicked superkick which I think he got a concussion from. It is an alright match but lacks the charm of the Survivor Series match which had the NYC fans turning on Michaels and Sid nailing Lothario with the camera just for the heck of it. Shawn celebrates with family and friends after winning title.

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Michaels takes a power bomb on the floor and it's sold like a hip toss. Or a Tiger Mask piledriver on the floor. That aside, the use of the camera as a payback spot was a clever touch as was throwing in a false finish off of it--though Shawn blatantly telling Sid to go after Jose on the apron was a pretty badly exposing moment. Complaints about Shawn's drawing power aside, the crowd that he did draw certainly was majorly invested in this. It's the best Shawn has come off as a babyface since the concussion angle a year earlier.

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After watching WWF events and TV through 94/95 until the middle part of 97 when RAW starts to look more like the show we know today and they start to run bigger buildings again, it's really jarring to see an event in such a huge arena. How much it is papered is up for debate, but still to have 60 odd thousand fans in a giant arena to see this WWF product gives a gravitas and big time feel to an event which it wouldn't have got otherwise. By way of contrast, the next PPV after this is in the UTC Arena in Chattanooga in front of a crowd a tenth of the size.

 

Sadly the whole PPV does not live up to the setting being pretty awful actually, and this match is fairly pedestrian. As pointed out the story is that Shawn had the flu, but it's hurt to me by the fact that the home town support for Shawn in this is not strong enough to offset the hatred for him in NYC at Survivor Series 96/love the crowd has for Sid, in terms of match intangibles. The match is also not as dynamic as the one from MSG and lacks the intensity of the exchanges. While not a terrible match, it's probably right at the bottom of Shawn's main event 96/97 ppv offerings.

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Shawn's pre-match promo is a little better than previous ones in this feud as he at least brings up the attack on Pete Lothario with some dissatisfaction. I loved the big entrances. It gave this a big time feel. Sid is great coming out saying he smells a powerbomb. Really fun atmosphere.

 

Really good match. This is better than the Survivor Series match until the finishing run which is overbooked. The false finishes are good & get nice pops, but it was a little much. It's mostly the ref bump & Sid choking the Lotharios that led to nothing that bothered me. Sid worked over Shawn's back most of the match & it's pretty good work from him. There were a few great cut offs including Sid leveling Shawn with a clothesline. I didn't like Shawn no selling the powerbomb on the floor. The spot seemed unnecessary if it wasn't going to lead to anything other than Sid briefly choking the Lotharios. I loved the callback to the Survivor Series with the camera though. Shawn eventually wins with the superkick to a huge pop. The post-match is great. They seemed to have done these long post-matches a lot during this period & I wish they'd bring them back. They're great for big moments & wins like this. Sid was pretty protected in this match so it's obvious they had some big plans for him. Shawn "Losing His Smile" is just around the corner. Things are going to get even more interesting in the WWF.

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I watched this in its entirety a while back and it was mostly whatever, but the finishing stretch comes off alright minus one spot where Shawn is clearly and obviously telling Sid what to do (the Lothario spot). Shawn taking a powerbomb on the floor and being up and about fifteen seconds later was sort of rubbish, but Sid grabbing both Lotharios by the throat while Lawler howls in glee makes up for it (I mean, I guess). The bit with the camera is a nice revenge spot from Survivor Series, the pop for the finish is huge, and the post-match feels like a proper celebration. I've always loved the atmosphere for this event and it's certainly a stark contrast to the types of crowds the WWF had been running in front of the previous few years. Did they ever run the Alamodome again? This and the SkyDome always had a special aura to me as a kid. 

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