This video contains highlights of the infamous SummerSlam 1997 match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Owen Hart.
Steve had been fueding with the Hart Foundation for some time before this and was due to win his first WWF singles title from the current Intercontinental champion, Owen Hart.
The match is infamous in that Steve’s neck was broken during the match and he was temporarily paralyzed live on Pay Per View. It was brutal to see as a 14 year old kid watching at a friend’s house. The injury takes place at the 22 second mark. Steve is instantly immobilized, but one can assume he whispers to Owen that he’s in big trouble. The problem, well, outside of him possibly bring a cripple for life, was they Steve couldn’t lose they night. If he didn’t pin Owen for the title he’s need to kiss his ass. Literally.
Listen, I grew up on this stuff and that kind of stipulation is pretty normal, considering.
So, Owen did what any veteran wrestler would do in that situation. He stalled for time and paraded around the ring, egging on fans. Looking back on the video today, I was in awe of how cognizant Owen was of what was happening. Owen knew he was hurt, and was yelling at fans while the ref checked on Steve. Look at the video. He literally was not moving.
After a few moments that seemed like an eternity, they’d came up with a plan on the spot, and Steve moved ever so slowly behind a taunting Owen to roll him over for the title. The whole thing is a marvel to see. Austin’s neck is broken and can barely move but he knows he needs to pin Hart to win the title. “Needs” is subjective, of course. The pin looked terrible, but we can give him a pass.
After watching the video I wonder what would have happened if the referee just ended the match due to injury. I have to imagine Austin wondered the same while on his back and said, “fuck it”, I can lose this match on PPV.
This match took place on August 3rd, 1997 and Austin’s rematch with Hart for the title came in November 9th, 1997 during Surviver Series. That’s 4 months later!
Steve Austin need to drastically alter his wrestling style due to this neck injury but he still became the biggest thing in wrestling history. Though, I wonder what the Attitude era would have been like had Austin never been able to walk out of SummerSlam in 1997.