WWE Championship: The Undertaker (c) vs. Bret Hart with Special Guest Referee Shawn Michaels
The history package for the main event is shown, which rather than focus on that established between The Undertaker and Bret Hart, it is instead focused between Bret and Shawn Michaels which makes Taker seem like collateral damage. This feud, does nonetheless show Bret’s anti-American heel persona which was being put across at the time which was really good. Bret makes his way out first, cutting a very anti-American promo before standing to the Canadian National Anthem which generates him a tonne of heat. HBK then makes his way, in a very cocky entrance where Bret is seemingly getting more and more annoyed throughout. The Undertaker then makes his way out to an incredible reaction which shows how his character had evolved in the previous 18 months.
The match gets underway with Bret nailing Taker with the championship belt, but the momentum doesn’t last long as Taker ferociously takes it to Bret in a style which is saved for a select few opponents. As the match continues, Bret is able to use his technical expertise to ground Taker which prompts the appearance of a very odd looking Paul Bearer…he is too human like. Taker soon attacks him, but is soon enough taken out by Bret once again. Before long, members of The Hart Foundation Brian Pillman and Owen Hart make their way out to watch on from ringside as Bret continues the dominance of Taker. Taker is able to get a near finish, but only when HBK is pre-occupied ejecting members of The Hart Foundation.
Taker’s momentum doesn’t last long as Bret continues the dominance in his quest to become the WWE Champion, which sees him throw Taker around the ring like someone half his size. Bret shows a great ring presence throughout, having a variety of moves to keep Taker down, but Taker needs credit here for the pure resilience he shows throughout the match. After Bret attempts to lock in the sharpshooter on the ring post, HBK is sent flying which allows Bret to nail Taker with a chair for a near finish. As Bret and HBK argue in the moments thereafter, Bret proceeds to spit in his face which leads to HBK accidentally nailing Taker with a chair to pick up the win and capture the title in an incredible match, with a mesmerizing performance throughout by Bret. This receives a terrible reaction from those in attendance, with the arena emptying rather quickly.
Winner: Bret Hart, to capture the WWE Championship
Match Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars
Summerslam 1997 Review summary
There were three key matches which stood out on this event and made it notable to watch. The opening match between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Mankind set the standard for them going forward, whilst pushing the boundaries within the limits of the time. Austin and Owen was absolutely brilliant, and would have scored massively better had it not being for the (understandable) ending. It is abundantly clear why they went in this direction very suddenly, but it tarnished in some ways what was an incredible match. But seriously, the match between The Undertaker and Bret Hart was probably the best they have ever had. They worked so well together in the ring, that the dynamic of Shawn Michaels wasn’t needed but added so much. One of the most enjoyable SummerSlam events to watch, and definitely worth the 9.99 Subscription Fee to the WWE Network.
Show Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars
Image Credit: BleacherReport.com