The Lo-Down: 1997 WWF Survivor Series

dlobrownWhat do professional wrestling and, more specifically, WWE, have to do with the University of Maine?  The answer, quite simply, is D’Lo Brown.

Brown, born Accie Julius Connor, was a superstar in WWE (then the WWF) during the so-called “Attitude Era”, which was unquestionably the height of professional wrestling’s popularity.  Just as important to those of us in Fill The Steins Nation, however, Brown is a graduate of the University of Maine and, believe it or not, a real-life Certified Public Accountant.

Instead of plying his trade in the boring world of accounting, Brown went down a much different career path…that of a professional wrestler.  After toiling in wrestling’s minor leagues for most of the mid ’90s, Brown was ultimately signed by the WWF in 1997, at which point he made his debut as a member of the Nation of Domination (NOD), the very same faction that produced some guy named The Rock.  Brown’s skill, his charisma, and a little bit of fortuitous timing landed him smack dab in the middle of some of the most important storylines (or angles) of wrestling’s “boom period”.

Like most mid-card level talents, D’Lo Brown’s run with the WWF/E, while successful, didn’t last forever.  Now, thanks to the brand new WWE Network, a subscription-based 24/7 streaming service (think Netflix for wrestling fans), every pay-per-view (PPV) is available to uber-fans, and the site’s outstanding search feature allows viewers to find every single big match from their favorite wrestler’s WWE career.

In keeping with our mission here at Fill The Steins to “celebrate the college of our hearts always”, we figured why not leverage the WWE Network to go back in time and relive some of D’Lo Brown’s most important contributions to the Attitude Era.  So, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Today, we look back at Brown’s involvement in one of the most infamous, controversial WWF PPVs of all time, the 1997 Survivor Series:

The Match: The Nation of Domination (Faarooq, The Rock, Kama Mustafa & D’Lo Brown) vs. The Legion of Doom, Ken Shamrock & Ahmed Johnson

The Event: 1997 WWF Survivor Series

The Location: Molson Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The Date: November 9, 1997

The 1997 Survivor Series will forever be remembered by wrestling fans for the Montreal Screwjob, but to members of Black Bear Nation, it will always be remembered as the night D’Lo Brown made his first Survivor Series appearance.  These traditional Survivor Series matches are elimination style, meaning the match is over only when all members of one team have been pinned, submitted, counted out, or disqualified.  This match was specifically on the card to advance the ongoing feud between the NOD and the individual members of the opposing team.  With that brief backstory…to the match!

D’Lo started the match for the NOD and landed both a clothesline and piledriver on Roadwarrior Hawk, who promptly no-sold both and hit D’Lo with a neckbreaker.  D’Lo quickly tagged in The Rock, who was only one year into his WWF career and still being groomed for superstardom at this point.  That grooming continued when he hit Hawk with his patented Rock Bottom out of nowhere to eliminate one-half of the tag team champions.

Ahmed Johnson took over for his team after Hawk’s elimination and quickly got trapped in the corner, where D’Lo, using heel tactics a much more seasoned veteran would be proud of, took Faarooq’s leather belt and began whipping Johnson with it.  Johnson was able to come back from this illegal assault to hit his Pearl River Plunge on Farrooq to eliminate the NOD leader.

This brought D’Lo back in for his team, and he quickly took control of the action and hit his version of a frogsplash, appropriately called the Lo-Down.  Almost 20 years later, D’Lo’s ability to hit that move despite weighing nearly 300 lbs. continues to amaze.  Instead of going for the pin, however, D’Lo busts out some classic heel wrestling and starts verbally taunting Johnson.  Of course, he got whooped by Johnson for his efforts and ended up tagging in The Rock to avert disaster.  The Rock then eliminated Ahmed with some illegal assistance from Faarooq, who was still milling around ringside.

After some VERY slow, plodding, ’70s style (not a compliment) pro wrestling, Roadwarrior Animal eliminated the NOD’s Kama, which once again brought D’Lo back in for his team.  This sequence provided D’Lo with the opportunity to showcase more of his heel offense…cheating behind the referee’s back, trash-talking, and engaging The Rock for multiple 2-on-1 beatdowns.

Animal is eventually eliminated by the interfering New Age Outlaws, who were gunning for LOD’s tag titles at the time, which left Shamrock to fight The Rock and D’Lo by himself.  Ultimately, both remaining members of the NOD, first D’Lo and then The Rock, tapped out to Shamrock’s vaunted ankle lock, leaving the former UFC champion as the sole survivor in the match after 20:35 of action.

Match Rating: *3/4 (out of *****)

D’Lo Brown Rating: ***1/4 (out of *****)

Final Thoughts: Of course, Fill The Steins is totally biased towards D’Lo’s efforts in the match but he, along with The Rock’s awesome interactions with the Rock-hating crowd, really were the highlights.  At this point in their careers, the Legion of Doom were old, Ahmed Johnson was damaged goods, and Ken Shamrock was still a rookie in the pro wrestling world.  In other words, D’Lo and the rest of the NOD didn’t have much to work with.  Still, D’Lo’s selling of the faces’ offense plus his own still-fledgling yet entertaining heel offense were unquestionably the high-energy spots of the match.  In hindsight, it’s clear that performances like this one are what helped show WWF Chairman Vince McMahon that D’Lo would be worthy of the extended singles push he’d receive the following year.  In the meantime, D’Lo would continue to fine-tune his act in matches like this, where he wasn’t required to carry the load but was still given ample time to showcase his charisma and athleticism.

Next up, we’ll take a look another milestone in D’Lo Brown’s WWF career…his Royal Rumble debut in the 1998 edition of the legendary event.  In the meantime, tell us your memories of D’Lo, the 1997 Survivor Series, and his WWF career as a whole.  Just use the comments section below or join the conversation on Twitter using #FillTheSteins!

Photo Credit: Courtesy of prowrestling.wikia.com

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