Triple H vs Goldust Part 1

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There's a bit of psychological breakdown in the introduction to this match, but the real highlight of these old Coliseum videos is the old lighting of the arenas. This event, Royal Rumble '97, took place in a pack'd Alamo-Dome and the brightness of the in-ring action makes the superstars appear truly larger-than-life. I want'd to see these matches again because the storyline was serious 'nother-man-putting-his-hands-on-my-wife sort of business and the participants really can't be ignore'd. On one hand, there's Triple H - one of the most polarizing figures in the last thirty years of wrestling, and then there's Goldust, who on the underground is one of the most beloved in-ring competitors for an even longer period than Triple H was ever around. They only really fought eachother twice -- both PPV matches for the Intercontinental Title - and if I recall correctly, the matches were full of drama.

To start, Goldust and Marlena enter the ring first, looking dead serious and unafraid. Next comes Helmsley and he's got company, the one and only Curtis Hughes -- Mr. Hughes, who had an undefeat'd streak in his day, iirc. Interestingly, both Goldust and Helmsley make Hughes look relatively small. They're both taller than the previous generation of IC title holders (Hart, Michaels, Perfect, Piper, Douglas, Steamboat, Smith), generally speaking; however, I imagine they were both expect'd to work as fastly and intricately as the standard bearers set forth in the previous decade. The fight begins with Goldust meeting a game Triple H in the aisleway - he literally pounces Helmsley and pummels him (that is to say, it wasn't a spear, or double-leg takedown, it was a legit tackle); he also gets in the face of Curtis Hughes to let him know how hard he's willing to fight on this night.

Back in the ring, we see some interesting things: Goldust sells an atomic-drop like a low-blow, as in a move that requires extra-selling, and he sling-shots Triple H straight over the top-rope, which is one example of how these tall guys use their size to keep things interesting. Ironically, on the way down, Triple H hits his lower back on the apron which gets mention'd in commentary (the same sort of injury that would cripple Shawn Michaels for years), but Goldust takes advantage by taking the ring steps in his hands and forcefully dumping them on Triple H's back while he suffer'd on hands and knees. Not sure I've ever seen such a cruel use of weaponry in wrestling, off the top of my head. Triple H bounces his head off the ring-steps just trying to avoid standing after this happen'd. He does it a second time, I think subconsciously trying to just get a count-out, so he could leave with the IC title and more importantly, avoid The Bizarre One.

Triple H recovers enough, lands some stiff shots, even a good chop, in the corner, takes a clothesline but kicks Goldust low (which the announcers and audience seem to have miss'd), and surprisingly does a flying axe-handle from the top-rope to the outside on Goldust's back. Commentators are talking about if Mr. Hughes is Helmsley's new butler, which makes things even weirder considering Helmsley was trying to pick up on Marlena. Triple H misses a knee-strike and hits the guard-rail, which gives me a chuckle. J.R. says he's broke his knee. Goldust takes advantage with the ring-step still in place and brings it down on Helmsley's knee. Goldust turns the focus to Triple H's knee to avoid another barrage from Triple H; he locks in a figure-4. Hebner seems eager to see Triple H pin't to the mat, but Goldust wants to brazenly use the ropes to increase the damage inflict'd. He cravatz the leg and slams it on the ring-step when Triple H is on the outside for a third time.

Goldust misses a cross-body block off the ropes and finds himself getting slam'd face-first on the other ring-step. Goldust seems to be expending a lot of energy and suffering hard when he finds himself on defense. Triple H is meanwhile having to work stiffly to maintain the edge over Goldust. Todd Pettingell interviews "country-singer" Colin Ray in mid-match and the doofus obliges him to sing some song call'd "Little Rock" ... man, this company...

Triple H manages to get a knee-drop in back on the inside, but Goldust is back on his feet and able to run inh another clothesline. That sort of instinctual offense works both offensively and defensively, and not everyone knows how to do it like the great Dustin Rhodes. It keeps the match going, but also, slows things down. Keeps everything in the center, where things may or may not hold, and the drama gets a chance to breathe. Goldust gets the crowd going with a back-bodydrop but when he goes to the top-rope, Helmsley pushes old Hebner into the ropes and quickly brings Goldust down low. It's funny how Hebner pats Goldust and waves to make sure he's okay after this. What follows with Hughes interfering, and Marlena trying to intervene, is not funny. Triple H takes advantage in more ways than one, and actually delivers a Rick Steiner-esque Steinerline with the left arm, which was a good set-up for the Pedigree, which end'd things. "In-Excelces Deo" plays and on his way out, we see Triple H's lip is bleeding. I think Marlena bit him, which is why their kiss last'd as long as it did.

Updated May 12th, 2024 at 5:34 AM by Horatio

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