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[1997-04-20-WWF-Revenge of the Taker] Bret Hart vs Steve Austin

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Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (Taker?s Revenge, 4/20/97)

 

This match is the third installment of the feud on PPV. It also has huge shoes to fill as the first two matches are arguably the two best matches the Fed has ever produced. Looking back, it is really amazing how this feud, not the HBK one, jump started the Bret Hart heel turn. At Survivor Series, Austin is clearly the heel but Bret is already being portrayed as a whiner. At Wrestlemania, these two gave us the one bright light on a dismal show and helped cement Bret?s heel turn. It was the next night that Bret Hart turned full heel, attacking America and its support of the anti-hero. So, a month later, Austin and Bret headline a PPV that pays tribute to the Undertaker.

 

After watching this match, the first thing that jumps out is the layout of the match which is a course in Wrestling 101. You have the early babyface shine segment in which Austin clearly dominates. You have the middle portion, where Bret Hart controls the match as he mercilessly attacks Austin?s injured leg. Finally, you have the stretch run where both guys gain and relinquish control leading up to the finish. We?ll get to the finish later but if the majority of WWF/E matches were executed this way, we probably wouldn?t criticize McMahon?s corporate disaster as much as we are prone to do.

 

As previously mentioned, the early portion is the time for Austin to shine and showcase his offense and style of wrestling. Early on, he gains control by mud-stomping Bret down and then using a few repertoire moves (elbow to the chest, suplex, gut stomp) to establish dominance. They take the action to the outside and brawl, an ode to the early portion of the Wrestlemania match. Outside, Austin maintains control by throwing Bret into the stairs twice and throwing him over the guardrail. Back inside, Austin continues to punish Bret with a 2nd rope elbow.

 

At this moment, Bret rolls outside of the ring and grabs a chair. This doesn?t bother me that much because this was when a chair shot actually meant damaging an opponent. Austin gets possession of the chair but Bret dropkicks Austin into the referee, giving us a ref bump early in the match. This segment sets up the middle portion of the match where Bret abuses Austin?s leg. With the ref out, Bret smashes Austin?s knee with the chair. This is by far the strongest portion of the match. Bret is just masterful in dissecting Austin?s leg and begins with Bret helping the ref up even though he initiated the ref bump. After this, Bret attacks the leg by slamming it on the edge of the ring, applying his ring-post figure-four and smashing Austin?s leg while it rests on the ring-post. Back in the ring, Bret continues the leg work. He takes off Austin?s knee brace and jumps on the leg several times while it rests on the ropes.

 

This portion also shows how Bret was such an effective heel in the ring. Helping the ref up even though he caused the ref bump, refusing to release the illegal ring post figure-four, grabbing Austin?s leg and punching him in the nuts? just a few examples of Bret playing his role to perfection.

 

After Bret?s low-blow, Austin returns the favor and takes control. This initiates the final run where both guys try to take advantage of the other. After gaining control, Austin misses a 2nd rope elbow, hurting his leg in the process. Austin tries a suplex to the outside but Bret reverses it and applies a figure-four for some near-falls. They return to the outside where Austin takes advantage of the environment by giving Bret a back body drop into the crowd and dropping him on the guardrail. I love the idea that Austin always maintains control on the outside. If Bret?s playground is inside the ring, Austin?s is clearly outside of it. In a way, this is a disservice to Austin since he wasn?t damaged goods yet and was still a great ?technical? wrestler who didn?t have to rely on overbooked shenanigans to entertain the crowd or tell a compelling story. .

 

Inside the ring, Austin attempts a piledriver and can?t complete the move because of his injured leg. Bret attempts an Irish whip but Austin falls down while running, exaggerating the damage his leg has taken. Another exchange of power takes place as Austin gets a surprise snake-eyes for two and Bret responds with a superplex. In an awesome display of turnabout is fair play, Austin nails Bret in the face with the knee brace while Bret attempts the Sharpshooter. Now, Austin turns the tide and applies the Stone cold Sharpshooter. It is at this point that Bulldog and Owen run down, interfere and eventually end the match after a Bulldog chair shot lays Austin out for the DQ ending.

 

I have mixed feelings on this match. On the one hand, it was set up beautifully and both guys played their roles to perfection. On the other hand, there were a few little things that kept it from matching up to its predecessors. First off, Austin?s selling in the match is frustrating. Early on, when Bret did the most damage to the leg, Austin would attack moves that required pressure on his leg but didn?t sell it. This is most noticeable when he is bouncing up and down on his knees while delivering some forearm smashes. He also forgot to sell the damage when he was attempting the suplex to the outside. He more than made up for this later on when he sold the leg like a champ but the inconsistency early on made it hard not to wince.

 

Another problem I had with the match was the finish. The DQ doesn?t bother me so much but the match just felt like it should have a more satisfying conclusion. Both the Survivor Series match and the Wrestlemania match had finishes that left no doubt who the winner was. In this match, you had the feeling it was designed to continue the feud rather than settle any score. To be fair, Austin continued to feud with the Hart Foundation throughout the summer and helped produce some of the best episodic TV the WWF has ever known. However, as good as the first two matches were, this one just fell short. That isn?t an indictment against this match but a testimonial to how great the first two were. This one had big shoes to fill and didn?t quite get the job done.

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Guest Some Guy

This match was originally supposed to be Sid vs. Bret but Sid got hurt and Austin had to step in about a week before the show.

 

I'd say that Austin clearly won the Bret feud the next night on Raw when he demolished Bret in the Street Fight and injured Bret's knee.

 

I really enjoyed this match. It isn't as good as the prior two they had, but it is still quite good and firmly established both guys in their new roles. It would have been near impossible for Bret to be able to match his performances in the first two matches, considering he needed surgery.

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What a great match! More unsung than Survivor Series and Wrestlemania probably because it's not as critical to the storyline, but I thought this was fantastic with all the focus on Austin's knee and the way Austin kept selling and making his comebacks so effectively. I wish Austin's body hadn't broken down so much in 1997 so we could have gotten matches like this in 1998-1999. Being a heel really suits Bret's in-ring style so much better in my opinion, even though he obviously was a great babyface too. At this point, Austin isn't beating Bret, but Bret isn't beating Austin either. Really excellent showcase for both guys, and very much a worthy match in the feud.

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I'm not even sure I knew this match happened, but it was excellent. Both guys did a great job of conveying their characters through the work. It's interesting how Austin's selling was actually more important than his brawling in establishing him as this indomitable SOB. And Bret really worked more viciously as he embraced his heel persona. At first, I wondered if the match would feel tacked on after they gave such a definitive performance at Mania. But they continued to evolve in their roles and kept the antipathy vital. I think I agree with Loss about this being the best WWF feud ever -- so many interesting dynamics that were backed up so perfectly by the matches.

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Bret’s “thee best there is....” slogan is more suited for a heel side of him. Bulldog and Owen come to ringside but Monsoon immediately boots them out. I noticed that even though Raw has the big Titan Tron for entrance they still have a small set up for PPVs. Stone Cold isn’t getting the huge crowd response yet. Austin’s bulky knee brace made such an obvious target and Bret obliges with going after the knee. Arena staff member ringside just barely avoided getting Hart back dropped on top of him. I liked Austin using his knee brace to break the Sharpshooter and then putting on his own. Austin wins but DQ but after match Steve starts going after Bret’s knee which is great. Hart looks so upset looking back in towards the ring as he limps out with the help of Owen and Bulldog. Excellent brawl.

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This gets really lost in the shuffle because it is not in contention for top 10 WWF matches ever but it was fantastic. The selling and cutting off of Austin's knee was great throughout. So was Austin's resilience to not give up. Brutal action but within the confines of a match. The ending felt like both at a stand still. Shame the crowd was pretty dead for this as it was awesome.

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This will never really get a lot of attention in the face of Survivor Series and WM13, but this holds up very well in the face of both of those matches. All 3 matches have felt "different." This had a lot of brawling that would draw a DQ in a more routine match, but they change the spots up and emphasize the body part work and down-and-dirtiness of it, rather than going for an "epic." There are still some fantastic dramatic moments here--Austin using his discarded knee brace as a weapon to block the Sharpshooter was a markout moment for me. Ditto with blocking the attempted post-match bell shot with a chair to Bret's leg. Austin goes to town on the knee during and after the match, I think to cover for legitimate surgery and of course setting the stage for Bret's Ironside-like role for the next month or so. As the crowd reaction shows, Austin still wasn't Austin yet--he couldn't spellbind an audience just by his presence, as the last-minute nature of this match set-up hurts it in terms of heat. But it's still a worthy addition to the rivalry in every other way.

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Very good match but it seemed to lose the crowd for portions. I think at this point the crowd was expecting a wild back and forth brawl and maybe that would have worked a little better in this setting. That said, it was a fantastic dissection of the leg by Bret and Austin showed good fire. I got the impression the crowd wanted to watch him kicking ass though, not selling a beatdown. And for a match built so heavily around the injured knee, Austin's selling was spotty enough to be a bother. Still, really good addition to their series.

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There were plenty of things before the finish that could've resulted in a prior DQ. Fortunately we have the world's most incompetent official on hand. As well as the many illegal moves there was also a long period of legwork. I didn't find it to be an exciting match. Too plodding and methodical. HSF as well. There was undoubtedly a strong rivalry and great chemistry between these two, but this is so far below their two classic matches.

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http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/20111-bret-hart-vs-steve-austin/

 

#195

 

Austin did a great job selling the knee as Hart worked it over. The first missed chair shot on his leg (on the oustside) looked bad. I liked that Austin went back to the knee after the missed elbow, and when the leg gave out on the piledriver. Doesn't reach the level of their other classics, but it's good with some really good spots. I felt more emotion from both guys post-DQ than I really felt during the match itself.

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Really good match. They're both tryting to hurt one another & that comes across very much in the match. Austin's selling is fantastic & Bret's knee attack is equally as such. Little moments like Austin going for a cover early & grabbing Bret's hair while at it & later in the match forgoing a cover so he can punch Bret in the face are excellent. I loved Austin putting the sharpshooter on Bret. Tremendous callback to Mania. Neither guy could lose at this point so the HF run in is fine. Hot post-match with Bret trying cripple Austin but that backfires with Austin taking out Bret's knee with a chair. Bret is helped to the back by his HF brethren & Monsoon to close. This feud probably is the best in WWF history. Every match, segment, & angle delivers. More than half of them feature classic, transcendent moments. Special stuff.

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Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin - WWF Revenge of The Taker 1997

This marks the first Stone Cold PPV main event as they main event over the WWF Championship match featuring Undertaker vs Mankind. Undertaker certainly took a backseat to the Bret/Austin/HBK drama of 1997. I have never actually seen this match and it is criminally underrated. Actually, I think this is better than the more heralded Survivor Series 1996 match. The out and out brawling suits both men better. Is there anybody you rather watch grind a match out than Bret Hart? He is the best at just working over a body part. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact he is especially good at stomping. We dont talk a lot about Stone Cold and his selling. To me what makes Stone Cold special is his out of control energy. He is always flailing his limbs and moving forward. But we dont talk about his vulnerability. I mean we are not supposed to, after all, he is the TOUGHEST SOB. It is not very tough to talk vulnerability, but here he does a great job demonstrating his ability to show pain. You cannot be the TOUGHEST SOB if there is no pain to overcome. So when Bret is destroying that knee, Austin yells in pain and collapses on an Irish Whip, but keeps moving forward, lunging Bret, hitting him in the balls, collapsing on a piledriver you know that Austin in a tremendous amount of pain, but goddamnit there is no quit in him. Bret for his part is incredible on offense escalating the violence to the knee, ringpost-assisted figure-4, steel chair shot and then ultimately taking off the knee brace. I think what makes this match and the Mania match so much better than your typical Bret match is how each man had to earn every bit of offense. Bret matches can be very neatly segmented. If Bret is on offense, he is on offense and you are his ragdoll. When Bret is selling, his opponent is on offense and Bret will ragdoll for you. That being said the transitions will usually be good just inside a segment there is no sense of struggle. Austin because of his tenacious, energetic style forces Bret's hand. So many times Austin will just charge or throw a wild punch. It is not even that much of a hope spot, but it is a spot that forces Bret to eyerake or to kick at the bad knee to re-establish control. Austin keeps Bret honest and I love that. 

The finish stretch is great. I love how both these men protect their finishes. Austin tries to yank Bret down into a Stunner with dogged determination, but Bret holds onto the top rope for dear life. What a great spot! Austin never hits the Stunner because the Stunner is a game-ender and if he aint gonna win he aint gonna hit it, but in kayfabe he of course has to attempt it, but it is blocked with great determination from Bret. Love it. By the same token, as Bret is going for the Sharpshooter, Austin whacks Bret with his own knee brace. I love it! Bret  taking the knee brace off comes back to haunt him and now Austin wants to make Bret submit to his own move. How humiliating! The Hart Foundation bails Bret out courtesy of a Bulldog chairshot triggering the DQ. The post-match is just as good as Bret looks to inflict more pain with the ring bell, but Austin beats him to the punch with a chairshot on the knee. Now it was Austin looking to destroy Bret's knee. A taste of his own medicine, I dig it. 

To me this is a hidden gem hiding in plain sight. It is STEVE AUSTIN VS BRET HART IN 1997, but yet no one talks about it. Don't overthink it, just watch it. ****1/2

 

 

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