Arnold Furious: During 1997 Vince McMahon’s financial situation steadily worsened. In order to combat falling attendance and poor buy rates in the USA, the WWF mined every possible avenue of revenue to stay afloat. One market in particular was underexposed and ripe for exploitation: Great Britain. The WWF’s presence in the UK had effectively killed off British wrestling, and the massive success of SummerSlam 1992 showed that UK PPVs could draw. Not only that but Vince had a huge British star in his ranks; Davey Boy Smith. A match between he and the company’s biggest heel Shawn Michaels would headline and the WWF would try to take the UK by storm, again. However the availability of the event was limited, with Sky Box Office airing the PPV and the event drew a modest 20,000 buys. For those outside the UK; Sky required a subscription just to get the basic package and the opportunity to purchase a PPV, plus the installation of a satellite dish. Considering all that; 20,000 wasn’t a bad number. But compared to American PPV’s it was a disappointment and the lack of buys made the WWF less inclined to put out a big show for future UK only PPVs. Later events were more akin to glorified house shows with standard house show fare. One Night Only is a little different.
We’re in Birmingham, UK. Incidentally my home town, or the nearest big city to where I live. Like how Paul Heyman claims New York as his home when he’s from Scarsdale.
We open with a video package with Shawn Michaels mentioning his aim is to become the first man to win all four of the WWF’s championship belts, which would become known as “The Grand Slam”. The UK video features the Free For All. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, who remind us that Undertaker’s title match is his rematch from SummerSlam ’97. The crowd is absolutely rabid and everyone gets strange reactions from the decidedly weird early Attitude audience. Sign O’ The Times: “Sporty Spice 4 Life”. Jerry Lawler interrupts proceedings as the announcers stand around taking shots at each other, introducing Owen Hart, to a mixed reaction. The Rocket refers to the Brits as “the greatest fans in the world” thus turning the Hart Foundation full-on face for the evening. Sunny joins us as a roving reporter with a wasted Shawn backstage. He slurs and stumbles over his words. If it was anyone else you’d be scared about the quality of the main event, but hell, Shawn on whatever he is on is still better than anyone else. Plus he operated that way for the majority of his most successful run in wrestling.