Lee Maughan: This would be the WWF’s fourth Slammy Awards presentation, contrary to their previous claims that the 1987 edition had been the “37th annual” gathering (as orchestrated by the “Academy of Wrestling Arts and Sciences”), as part of the promotion’s ongoing attempts to market WrestleMania as an entire festival of sports entertainment, rather than as a single pro wrestling event. Your emcee for the evening is Todd Pettengill, with Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler calling the action from ring… er, stageside. McMahon declares typical awards shows to be “boring”, so those are your stakes.
New Sensation of the Squared Circle
Presented by Super Soaker no less, so you know how important this is. Ahmed Johnson, last year’s winner, is out to present the award, thanking the fans for the support while he was injured last year and hoping they’ll support Shawn Michaels through his own injury, which Michaels laughs off with a grin that screams: “I’m faking it you idiot!” Ahmed, of course, looks thoroughly ridiculous in his ill-fitting waistcoat and shirt. Why couldn’t that man ever find clothing of any kind that actually suited him?
Nominees: Steve Austin, Marc Mero, Flash Funk, Mankind and Rocky Maivia.
Winner: Rocky Maivia
Rocky gives an acceptance speech every bit as typical as the ones you get on the Grammys or the Oscars, thanking everyone from God to his wife, with Lawler noting Rocky made a liar out of Vince by being so boring. Pettengill notes that Austin (seated with his wife Jeannie Clark, making this a rare WWF appearance for former WCW valet Lady Blossom) finished a close second, so Austin storms the stage and accuses Rocky of voting for himself. Who does he think he is, Kanye West? With hindsight, the banter between the two looks entirely intentional, but nobody could possibly have known to what heights the two would scale. Austin then turns his attention to cutting a promo on Bret Hart (who has one of his sons sat on his lap), and Ken Shamrock, who takes the whole thing so seriously he can’t stop grinning like a teenage boy who’s just discovered his dad’s secret stash of top-shelf literature.
Dressed to Kill
As presented by supermodel Cindy Margolis and the Honky Tonk Man, on behalf of Dimension Films, producers of The Crow and co-producers of Scream. Honky can’t get Cindy’s name right and calls her “America’s number one pick-up”, before dubbing Rocky Maivia “Chia Pet Head”. Cindy retorts that it’s “better to have been on the charts than never to have been on them at all”, tells Honky “the wet head is dead” and suggests it wouldn’t take “more than a little dab to do ya.” How very un-PG. Lawler even gets in on the innuendo, claiming he’s already gone through four posters of Margolis. “McMahon, she told me she’d like to run her fingers through your hair… Where’d you leave it?”
Nominees: Shawn Michaels, Sable, Marlena, Flash Funk and the Undertaker.
Winner: Sable. The ego has landed.
Naturally, Marc Mero speaks up first, I guess since he’s the man and Sable needs to know her place or something. Who does he think HE is, Randy Savage circa-1986? Sable says 1997 will be the year of the cat. Contradictorily, the Chinese Zodiac made 1997 out to be the year of the Ox. Who knew Mr. Baker would be due for a comeback?
Not only are we scraping the bottom of the barrel with a best tattoo award, but it’s being presented by George and Adam, two WWF video production geeks dragged on camera to play the role of the worst kind of stereotypical nerdy superfans that most everyone on the planet look down on. How that was supposed to get over with those same, real-life fans, has yet to be explained. Tony Atlas, seated as the same table as them, looks suitably unimpressed. These idiots are so low-rent, Lawler can’t even be bothered making any jokes about them.
Nominees: Drew Barrymore (pardon?), Crush, Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker and Tommy Lee (pardon?)
Winner: The Undertaker
Undertaker makes one of his legendarily grand entrances by opening a door and walking through it as the live band trumpets out a jazzy interpretation of his theme music, which results in George quite literally pissing himself. And wouldn’t you just know it? McMahon finds that to be the funniest thing he’s ever seen. Even more absurdly, this all plays out as Undertaker references Pat Patterson by quoting Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ for his acceptance speech. Bizarre.
Also part of the show tonight is the 1997 Ms. Slammy talent contest. Oh boy. Up first are the Funkettes, Tracy and Nadine, who perform a rotten synchronised dance routine in fluorescent orange pants as the backdrop to some truly awful mid-90s Hi-NRG/Italo Disco number. Sorry girls, that’s nil points from me.
Meanwhile, the Nation of Domination arrive fashionably late.
Match of the Year
You might think this would be the big award of the night, but given its lowly placement on the show, you’d be wrong. At least Jim Ross is presenting it, which instantly raises the class level and credibility of the award over everything else tonight, even with the endorsement from Milton Bradley Karate Fighters. In fairness, Ross could have given an award for best Milton Bradley Karate Fighter and it still would have been a step up from George wetting his knickers.
Nominees: Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind (In Your House 10: Mind Games), Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (Survivor Series ‘96), Mankind vs. The Undertaker (Boiler Room Brawl, SummerSlam ‘96), Savio Vega vs. Steve Austin (Caribbean Strap match, In Your House 8: Beware of Dog 2) and Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart (Iron Man match, WrestleMania XII). That’s a hell of a field actually.
Winner: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart
Shawn actually shows enough humility to remind everyone that “You don’t go out there and have a match of the year all by yourself, it takes two very talented individuals, it takes a very talented referee and a whole crew of people around you, which we have in this room.” He adds that he’s very proud to receive the award and hopes that Bret is too, before reminding everyone that he won that match, then he literally skips away. Bret thanks the fans who still believe in him, cuts a fairly standard promo on Austin, and takes a dig at Michaels, saying he’ll get another chance to face him “if he ever finds his smile.” The whole thing might have had more impact had their planned rematch at WrestleMania 13 actually taken place.
Best Hair Day
The recently returned Legion of Doom are the hosts here, of course, and Hawk notes that he does his hair with “hydrochloric acid. Final trim: Lawn-Boy”. Animal’s just glad they’re back in their “hometown” of Chicago.
Nominees: Shawn Michaels, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Steve Austin, Mankind and Bret Hart.
Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Helmsley threatens to set Chyna on Pettengill on account of the song he sung earlier, which was so bad it actually got cut from this tape. Imagine that! “Look at it, wish you had it, and eat your hearts out.”
Next up in the Ms. Slammy talent contest is Marlena. She puts on a blindfold as Goldust places a series of long, smooth objects in her mouth for her to suck on. They’re cigars. “No teeth marks!” notes Lawler. She identifies several brands as Goldust teases as blowjob for later. No, really!
Hosts for this one are ‘Captain’ Lou Albano since most of his screws are already loose, and Sunny, because she’s a loose… Hey, don’t get mad at me, Pettengill actually made that joke! Why yes, this IS the Attitude Era, where we gladly accept cash payments in return for pimping a string of children’s toys on a show swimming in adult sexual references and on which we out our most popular female performer as a gigantic slut! Albano rants and raves about all the legends of the WWF, like “Sid Vicious” and “Honky Tonky Man” while Sunny gets everyone hyped for the upcoming swimsuit contest. Hopefully she’ll be wearing the swimsuit rather than Albano.
Nominees: Sycho Sid, Mankind, Cosmo Kramer (pardon?), Steve Austin and Mr. Bob Backlund.
And the award for best acceptance speech of the night goes to: “I want to honour somebody who’s been my inspiration in wrestling, someone who’s been like a father to me… Mr. Aldo Montoya! And I’d just like to say that, with the exception of my kid being born, this is the greatest night in the history of my life. And to my wife who’s home sick… Yo Adrian! I did it! Have a nice day!” Mankind celebrates by dry humping the Headbangers as Vader gives him a standing ovation.
Owen Hart is called up on stage to present the award but mistakenly believes he’s won it, and accepts on his own behalf to become “the two-time Slammy Award winning” Owen Hart. He plays it with such charming over-the-top zest that Davey Boy Smith, his tag team partner with who he’s working an on-going break-up program, can’t stop grinning ear-to-ear. It’s lovely to see them having so much fun actually, even if it wasn’t supposed to happen quite like that. Speaking of things that “aren’t supposed to happen”, classic ribber Owen intentionally shoves over a waiter whose full tray of drinks goes flying… all over Vader’s tuxedo. Vader, laughing his ass off, gives chase, only to hit a wet patch on the floor sending him arse over tit across a pile of chairs as Owen gleefully escapes, cackling the whole way. Only someone like Owen could have messed with a guy like Vader in that manner and lived to tell the tale. Corking stuff.
Do you want more of the Ms. Slammy talent contest? No? Here it is anyway! Sable hits the gym and breaks some boards, karate style. I’d say she’s probably winning this contest so far. Lecherous old pervert Lawler just wants to see some skin. “Sunny told me that her bikini is so small, it’s two dots and a dash!” In that case, I DEFINITELY hope it’s her wearing the cozzie rather than Albano.
‘The Real Double J’ Jesse Jammes joins us next for the debut performance of his new single ‘Something Gone Wrong’. McMahon wonders if the title is a reference to the Slammys. At this point I’d probably make the joke about how I’m a fan of neither country NOR western, but unlike his previous number ‘With My Baby Tonight’, ‘Something Gone Wrong’ sounds more like Michael Bolton covering Pearl Jam. Which might actually be worse. Adult contemporary grunge, anyone? Yeeuch!
Number One With a Bullet
That leads us in to the award for best entrance music, along with a rather unsubtle plug for the WWF Full Metal album. Dok Hendrix, noted music fan and part time growler… sorry, singer, wants to know why he wasn’t included on the album, but the punchline about how they “wanted to sell some units” is rather undercut by the fans in attendance chanting “Kill the clown!” at Doink. That’s right, Doink the Clown was still appearing in the WWF in 1997, despite having mostly vanished sometime around 1995. Then again, the Bushwhackers were still on-and-off with the group at this point, though mostly just in something of an ambassadorial role whilst mainly working small-time indy shows.
Nominees: Jesse Jammes, The Undertaker, the Nation of Domination, Flash Funk and Sunny.
Winner: The Undertaker.
“That clown’s going to need an undertaker real soon.” That line alone makes me wish they’d turned Doink back heel with the growing fan resentment against him. With the edgier product they were starting to push, they really could have done something special with him, although it obviously would have paled to Matt Borne’s interpretation of the character. Hell, just having Undertaker Tombstone him into oblivion would have been a fitting conclusion to all the “kill the clown” chants. Undertaker tries to explain the thought process behind how he chose his music as the camera cuts to Sid, who looks for all the world like he’s suffering through a migraine or a brain haemorrhage. I can’t say as I blame him, especially when Undertaker implores his Creatures of the Night to “rock in peace.”
Time now for the Ms. Slammy swimsuit contest. Up first is Sunny, who’s got “the end to end all ends” in a glittery pink number. McMahon calls her the queen of cyberspace and “the most downloaded superstar in the world” as Lawler quips: “I have the urge to have a cigarette after I log off.” There’s an image I could have done without; the ‘King’ in his tights and crown, hunched over an Apple Mac with one hand on his mouse and the other on his… mouse, clicking through the vast archives of YouPorn.
Chyna is up next but out comes Helmsley instead, who has withdrawn her from the competition because “she doesn’t belong on stage in the valley of the silicone queens.” She would, of course, get her first boob job less than a year later. And where was she during the talent contest anyway? That just speaks volumes about her overall skillset. “She’s not here to entertain you.” I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments. “As far as talent goes, people like Sunny, we know what her only talent is and they can’t show it on national TV. And I’ve got a best friend who says she’s not very good at that either!” Lawler speculates Chyna’s problem might be similar to the same one the protagonist in The Crying Game suffered, which Helmsley only furthers by declaring her as being “rock hard.”
Two for the price of one next, with the Funkettes coming out in matching lime green bikinis. George ‘the Animal’ Steele can’t contain himself any longer and just starts masturbating freely at his table. I can’t decide if that’s a step too far or just a crazy old man who’s finally decided to live life to its fullest. Stationed with a Funkette either side of him, Pettengill declares “I feel like an Oreo cookie!” Because we simply must point out the funny black people, ha ha ha!
Marlena, honking on another cigar, arrives in, what else, a gold bikini which Lawler calls “the bust that money can buy.” What, is she a prostitute now? I can spare a twenty, how about we all pool in? She bends over in a golden thong as Vince tries to defend the show by noting that “this is late night!”
Sable is our final gal, sporting what can only be described as a piece of see-through string. Ken Shamrock can’t believe his luck, and he’s only sat in the second row! “The ‘Wild Man’ is perspiring!” barks McMahon. I can only presume Mero has taken after George Steele’s lead.
1… 2… He’s Got Him!
Brian Pillman notes how tough it is to follow such an uplifting exhibition and buries the sappy acceptance speeches tonight, criticising Rocky for not thanking the escort service that provided him with his date. He also gets in a jab at Steve Austin’s “sacrilegious prostitution of John 3:16.”
Nominees: Sweet Chin Music (Shawn Michaels), Wild Thing (Marc Mero), Powerbomb (Sycho Sid), Stone Cold Stunner (Steve Austin) and Sharpshooter (Bret Hart).
Winner: Shawn Michaels.
Michaels apologies to McMahon for removing his tux due to the heat in the building, suggests he won the award because he was the only guy to take all the other finishing moves (funny, I don’t remember a Michaels-Mero match, though that probably would have wound up being the highlight of Mero’s career), and digs the needle in further by noting that he beat Bret with the superkick at WrestleMania last year.
Presenters for this award are “the King and the Emperor”, Lawler and McMahon, on behalf of Doublemint Gum (mmm, fresh!). Pettengill stands around in a pair of sunglasses, making a complete arse of himself as he waves his head from side to side in what I gather was supposed to be an impression of Stevie Wonder. Isn’t he lovely? No.
Nominees: Goldust & Marlena, Bill & Hillary Clinton (pardon?), Marc Mero & Sable, Siegfried & Roy (pardon?) and Hunter Hearst Helmsley & Chyna.
Winners: Goldust & Marlena
Vince lets Lawler read the winners names because it’s “the closest (he’ll) ever get” to winning an award. Hell, it was just as close a call as to whether he’d ever get a WrestleMania match! “I see Goldust has once again been shopping at Elton John’s Funwear for Fellahs! Ha ha ha!” It’s a gay joke! Because the WWF is cutting edge now! Marlena thanks Goldust for having an enormous penis. Sure, there was more innuendo to it than that, but that’s basically what she said.
Oddly, we now go to Chyna’s portion of the Ms. Slammy talent show, despite her having already been withdrawn from competition. She lifts a bunch of weights, which I guess is impressive if you’re actually into that kind of thing. Unfortunately, I’m not.
Sunny’s talent is apparently you wanting her, as she sings, rollerblades and takes baths. “Now I know why they make these jackets with so much room” blurts out Pettengill. Oh, I see. He’s a grown man sporting a hard-on in public because he just saw a very softcore video of a woman in her best negligees. You know, I was kind of having fun watching some of this nonsense earlier, but I can’t believe it’s still going on. Somebody please put this thing out of its misery already?
Larry Flynt Freedom of Speech Award
Presenters are Mr. Bob Backlund and radio show shock jock and Howard Stern wannabe ‘Mancow’ Muller, who would later go on to stink up WCW’s Spring Stampede 2000 with a rotten “celebrity” match against Jimmy Hart.
Nominees: Jerry Lawler, Steve Austin, Paul E. Dangerously (really), Faarooq and, funnily enough, Howard Stern.
Winner: Steve Austin
Mancow can’t believe Stern was nominated. “Why is he in there? Why is he in there? His movie sucked, he’s the king of mediocre, I wanna fight that bastard! I wanna do MY movie, Beating Private Parts!” Austin puts over pro wrestling to the non-believers, and cuts another promo on Bret Hart. Doink sprays ‘Stone Cold’ with silly string so Austin and the New Blackjacks just beat the shit out of him, having finally had enough.
Sid co-presents the award because he’s the current WWF Champion, though that’s mainly an excuse to have him get on stage and cut a promo on the Undertaker. President Gorilla Monsoon takes over and introduces a rather nice little video tribute to ‘Golden Boy’ Arnold Skaaland, which notes that he “managed two former World Wrestling Federation champions” but they only show him with Backlund, not with Bruno Sammartino who was well on the outs with the promotion by 1997. They do mention Bruno by name though, and claim Skaaland as the first man to have ever managed Andre the Giant. They throw in some playful jabs about his unbeaten gin rummy record and how his trademark cigars finally became trendy, as the entire roster gives him a standing ovation on to the stage. He says “it’s been a great 57 years”, contradicting the video package that claimed he was “in his seventh decade in the industry”, and touchingly presents the trophy to his wife, Betty.
Western Union proudly give the award to Sable. Was there really any other choice here? Sunny looks on with a face like a smacked arse, which is worth the price of admission alone.
Summary: That was one of the strangest mixes of the bizarre, the classy, the stupid, the meaningful, the low-brow, the amusing and the charmless I think I’ve ever witnessed. Personally, I’ve always found the Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels Iron Man match to be about 30-minutes of greatness coupled with 30 minutes of tedium that ultimately just went on for too long. Your opinion may differ, and so it may here, but I found this show to be much the same in the sense that one moment I would be grinning my own Davey Boy Smith grin at the absurdity of it all, and the next I’d be counting down the seconds until it ended like a prisoner wrongly accused of a crime he didn’t commit. It was funny when the guys who were genuinely funny (Owen Hart, Mankind) got to cut loose, and utterly diabolical when Vince McMahon rolled out his forced humour (George’s little “accident”). The genuinely endearing awards (Arnold Skaaland’s lifetime achievement and the match of the year presentations) were completely marginalised by the rest of the carnival of the absurd, and the amount of sexual innuendo was absolutely numbing at times. Honestly, I have no idea if I even enjoyed this show or not, but I do think it’s the sort of goofy fun that’s been missing from wrestling since the late 90s. The gold lamé suits, the wacky nominees… wrestling could probably use this kind of kick in the pants every once in a while as a reminded not to be so po-faced about itself and inject a little colour into proceedings, but it’s the kind best served in moderation. As much as I miss the sort of characterisations and all-around silliness on display here, I’m not sure I could suffer another hour of it, let alone 75-minutes.