WWF February 1997 -Shawn Michaels Loses his Smile, Bret Champion for 24 hours, Wrestlemania plans change


Over in Vince McMahon’s kingdom it was nearly Wrestlemania time and the WWF was shaken up by turbulence that was changing the direction of the years Wrestlemania.


On the first RAW of the month Michaels who had just won back the WWF title from Sid came to the ring surrendered his title and gave the following promo.


“What I’m going to do is go back home and see what’s left for me; whether it’ll be in this ring…whether it’ll be out of this ring. I know that over the, uh, the last several months I’ve lost a lot of things and one of them has been my smile. And, and I know it doesn’t mean a whole lot to everbody else, but it means a lot to me. So I have to go back and fix myself, and take care of myself, and I have to go back and I have to find my smile because somewhere along the line I lost it and I don’t care, really, I don’t care if it’s unpopular, and I don’t care if, uh, people want to make fun of me because I’m an emotional guy. But, um, this is all I’ve ever wanted to do and uh, over the last year I got to do it and whether you like me or not, I just want to tell you that, uh, last year was the most wonderful year of my life. And, uh, if I never do get to do it again, it’ll be okay because I got to live one full year as being the number one guy in this business and it was the single greatest year of my life.”


With this emotional speech came the news that the four way match at IYH the Final Four would now be for the WWF title and Sid the former Champion would get a title match on RAW the following night. In reality Shawn had a knee injury. Bret Hart and others have speculated that Michaels was infarct not injured but did not want to go into a Wrestlemania match with Hart. Though there is not proof that this was the case.


Bret Hart won at IYH making him the new WWF champion. But the next night on RAW when he faced Sid for the title his old nemesis Steve Austin interfered costing Bret the WWF title. Bret also got more aggressive in what he said.


This was a landmark event because it was so rare for the WWF title to change hands on an episode of Monday Night RAW. It also meant that Bret had only been champion for 24 hours. After that edition of RAW the main events for Wrestlemania were set. Hart was to go against Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker would be battling Sid for the WWF title.


Elsewhere in February a very young Rocky Maivia became a young intercontinental champion defeating Hunter Hest Helmsley. On the 17th February the Hardy Boys competed on monday night RAW as little more than jobbers. Other notable action saw rival promotion ECW “invade” WWF in a move many think was to counter WCW and the N.W.O storyline. WWF had commentator Jerry Lawler badmouth ECW and then invite them to RAW. The same night WWF introduced Ken Shamrock formally from the UFC. Some of the ECW stars and these rising WWF stars would be very big names in the era that was beginning to quietly take seed.