The Summerslam Countdown: Day One

August 4th, 2011 by | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Before World Wrestling Entertainment oversaturated the pay-per-view market with too many shows per year, they were better about giving us more with less. We had four big PPVs. Wrestlemania was the granddaddy of them all, a major spectacle meant to be the show of the year where major feuds would meet their climax and they’d fit in as many memorable moments and matches as possible. The Royal Rumble would lead into that show with its own exciting and unpredictable 30 (now 40)-man match that’s fun to watch no matter what year it is. Survivor Series would use its gang warfare gimmick to fuel the fire between ongoing feuds while giving us new matchups and its own sense of unpredictability. I’ve covered those three before. That leaves Summerslam.

Summerslam is the fourth corner of that equation and lacks the standout gimmick. It’s more like Wrestlemania Jr. than anything else. It’s a 3-hour show where things are a bigger deal than your average PPV or Saturday Night’s Main Event, but not QUITE as major as Wrestlemania. Comparing Wrestlemania and Summerslam is a lot like comparing WWE’s top shows Raw and Smackdown. One is more about flash and stardom while the other gets a little more freedom in its second place spot and usually tends to have better wrestling overall. I’m going to be honest, I expected this to be a bitch to go through because Summerslam was never all that interesting to me. Going down the list, only 10 of the 23 existing shows have I seen before, either via PPV or Coliseum Home Video. While, yes, there are a couple stinkers in there – as you’ll see here in this first update – the show tends to be quality. Even the #22 spot goes to a show that many would consider to be a quality outing.

With the upcoming Summerslam 2011, where we’ll see CM Punk face John Cena, it’s only fitting that I spend the next eleven days leading up to it by ranking and reviewing every Summerslam from worst to best.

A reminder on how the rating system works. I don’t want one single great match or bad match completely define a show. I rate each match one-to-ten. WWF/WWE Championship and WCW/World Heavyweight Championship matches as well as non-world-title main events count as two matches. The “atmosphere”, which means the stuff on the show that isn’t part of the matches themselves, such as backstage promos and the like count collectively as one match. From there, it’s averaged out.

So let’s get to it. 4thletter says… SLAM.

Wait, did they have a Tony Schiavone voice clip in that intro when he was gone from the company for several years?


Date: August 27, 1995
Era: New Generation
Location: Pittsburgh Civic Arena in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
Known as: …why is Mabel in the main event?

The years of 94 and 95 have given us the two most despised and headshaking main events in Summerslam history. Actually, scratch that. Wrestling history. The company had been pushing Diesel as their breakout champ who dropped his likeable gruff status for the sake of smiling and pandering to the crowd while making up with his old buddy Shawn Michaels. Diesel’s challenger would be King of the Ring winner Mabel, insisting to be called King Mabel. Elsewhere on the card, Bret Hart’s feud with Jerry Lawler led to a segment where Bret shoved Lawler’s own foot into his mouth and that led to Lawler getting his giant sadistic dentist a WWF contract so he can get revenge. Yeah… But hey, remember how Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon once had that awesome ladder match at Wrestlemania 10? They’re going to get a rematch!

As King Mabel gets his cup of coffee in the main event, what are the other top heels in the company up to? What of Yokozuna, Owen Hart (the tag champs), British Bulldog and Sycho Sid? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Wrestlemania main eventer Bam Bam Bigelow isn’t mentioned at all either.

The Atmosphere

I should get the good out of the way. Michaels and Razor each pull off a couple great backstage promos. Razor’s has a neat little moment where an injured Bret Hart is carried past the camera and interrupts him for a sec. The commercial for the next In Your House PPV is amusing. I got a laugh when they revealed Barry Horowitz’s graphic for his match as a picture of him in a shirt and tie with the dorkiest glasses you’ve ever seen on. They’d try to build up Dean Douglas with segments where he’d make fun of the faces with his teaching-on-a-chalkboard style until Razor Ramon finally shuts him up with his fists. Um… that’s about it.

Todd Pettengill narrates the video recaps for each match, which are cheesy as hell. He also does the intro to the show, which has him trying to be as gritty and dramatic as possible while going over all the main stories. It’s douche chill-inducing. One of those recaps features him discussing Jerry Lawler having his own foot in his mouth, which includes him saying that he “tasted his own puppies.” Given the WWF vocabulary that would come a couple years later, that sounds grosser than it should be.

Speaking of cheesy, backstage, we’d see the 1-2-3 Kid answering questions on AOL while the likes of Skip, Sunny and Barry Horowitz would talk to fans on red phones looking like they’re right out of Batman. Doc Hendrix interviews King Mabel, which gets cut off in the middle for the next segment. Diesel tries to give a really intense promo, but finds himself barely able to keep a straight face.

The very end of the show features President Gorilla Monsoon telling Jim Cornette, Yokozuna and Owen Hart about what the main event for the next PPV will be. It’s a good segment on its own, but as part of the show, it’s one of the most confusing moments in all wrestling. I’ll explain myself later.

The Matches

Our opener is The 1-2-3 Kid vs. Hakushi. Hakushi is coming off an embarrassing loss against Barry Horowitz thanks to the accidental interference of Skip from the Bodydonnas. This is a very exciting pairing and it starts well. They go through three separate exchanges without a clear shot in and find themselves back where they started. In other words, the “indy stalemate” that Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn made famous back in ECW. Hakushi ends this with a suckerpunch thrust to the throat. Irony of all ironies, he gives the Kid a Bronco Buster years before the victim would make that a household name in wrestling. The match, unfortunately, slows down from here. Cool moves are done, sure, but it’s at a snail’s pace and it sucks the life out of how cool it should be.

Things do lighten up again when Hakushi kicks the Kid out of the ring and does a cartwheel into a jumping splash onto him. He brings him back in and hits a shoulder tackle off the top. Then he goes for a splash off the top and misses. For the first time in the match at this late point, the 1-2-3 Kid finally has the advantage. The pace picks up. He gets Hakushi out of the ring, then dives out onto him off the second rope. Back into the ring, he hits a Frog Splash. Hakushi kicks out. The Kid does his patented spinning heel kick, but it’s caught, Hakushi slams him down and pins him right there. It’s a good opener, but had this not been the point in the Kid’s first run where he had become a heatless jobber, it could have been better.

Fun fact: at the latest CHIKARA King of Trios tournament, Sean “X-Pac” Waltman competed as the 1-2-3 Kid for the first time in 15 years. Jinsei Shinzaki, otherwise known as Hakushi, was one of his opponents in the first round. The crowd proceeded to chant “1995!” to the Kid’s amusement.

Up next, we get a couple Summerslam debuts with Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Bob “Sparkplug” Holly. Hunter walks right into a bodyslam, but when grappled into the corner, he delivers a suckerpunch and takes it from there. He proceeds to play around with Holly for several minutes while taking the occasional break to do his curtsey taunt. Like much of Hunter’s blue blood stuff, it’s dull as all get out. They even take a break from the action to show the British Bulldog walking around backstage. This, despite him neither having a match nor showing up during the main event where he’s part of the angle. So yes, exciting stuff. Hunter delivers an abdominal stretch, which gets reversed into Holly’s own abdominal stretch, which gets reversed into a hiptoss. Holly does finally get momentum and hits a bunch of his textbook dropkicks. He sets Hunter up for a backdrop, but all Hunter sees is an open invitation to put Holly in the Pedigree. The squash is finished and we can move forward.

Even though this show doesn’t have a tag title match, we still get Eli and Jacob Blu vs. the Smoking Gunns (Billy Gunn and Bart Gunn). Go figure. During the entrances, we’d see this dork plugging Diesel t-shirts for the fans at home. A quick search online brings up nothing on this guy’s name and I don’t feel like checking the DVD. Either way, he’s annoying. The opening grappling exchange between Billy and Eli features Billy landing a Famouser, but this is long before it would be his finisher, so it lacks the finisher mojo and doesn’t come close to putting Eli away. The Gunns use some good teamwork against the Blus until the heels start working over Bart behind the ref’s back. This turns the tide. They even nail a nice double Boss Man Slam on him.

Bart eventually tags Billy, who fights back against the evil twins, but gets caught in a powerslam from Eli. He kicks out from a very close 3-count. Bart gets tagged back in and cleans house until enduring a surprise boot to the face. Chaos fills the ring and the Gunns trick the Blus into running into each other. They hit their finisher, the Sidewinder, on whichever Blu brother and win the match. Solid tag outing, all things considered.

Maybe it’s because I’m weird, but I consider this next match to be the match of the night. No, it isn’t the ladder match. It isn’t even the Bret Hart match. It’s Barry Horowitz vs. Skip! The feud is based on eternal jobber Horowitz getting a surprise pin on Skip and embarrassing him. Skip had become obsessed with the guy, leading to this PPV match. As low on the card as they both are, it doesn’t stop them from being pretty damn good in the ring. Horowitz begins the match by going right after Skip, kicking all sorts of ass. He clotheslines him out of the ring and continues to outsmart him again and again at every turn, even suplexing him out of the ring at one point. He no longer looks like the guy who has been spending week after week being beaten by the rising stars of the company. Sunny tries to stop the madness by throwing in the towel, but all it gets her is an angry ref telling her to get out of his face. She still succeeds in tripping Horowitz and killing his momentum.

Skip takes over and slows thing down a bit to the chantings of “BARRY!” from the crowd. Things get slow enough that commentators Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon start discussing the idea of having Siskel and Ebert fight it out on PPV. Horowitz tries to fight back and gets clotheslined back down. Still, he refuses to stay beat. The two competitors hit each other with dropkicks at the same time, stunning them both. Skip climbs the ropes and gets a dropkick to the back of the leg, causing him to get crotched on the corner post. Horowitz’s attempt to follow up causes him to eat an elbow and then a top-rope splash. Skip, foolish as ever, refuses to take the full pin. He isn’t done yet. He goes for a piledriver and instead gets backdropped. Horowitz climbs the ropes, which would be a good idea if Sunny wasn’t there, but she is and she shakes the ropes. It opens him up for a superplex courtesy of Skip.

All of the sudden, Hakushi walks out in his full entrance gear. He removes it, climbs to the apron and does a plancha jump over the both of them before rolling to his feet and leaving the ring. As Skip is turning due to this diversion, Horowitz grabs him for a small package and pins him. He’s so excited that he hugs a disgruntled Earl Hebner and finds out from that earlier t-shirt advertising dork that there’s now a new Barry Horowitz t-shirt out there. Great stuff. No, seriously.

Up next, Alundra Blayze defends the WWF Woman’s Championship against Bertha Faye. It’s a short match and not one of Alundra’s best in her WWF tenure. She takes Bertha down with some martial arts kicks, but it doesn’t last and soon Bertha has control. Bertha misses a splash off the second rope, only to kick out of Alundra’s Victory Roll pin. With Bertha being so big, Alundra keeps punishing her by grabbing her by the head and spiking it into the mat. She goes for the pin just as Bertha’s boyfriend and manager Harvey Whippleman distracts the ref. Alundra chases him away and grabs Bertha for a German suplex. She’s too heavy, so she goes for a Crucifix pin instead. Doesn’t take. She climbs to the second rope and hits a dropkick. Then another. Then another. This third one misses, Bertha picks her up and puts her away with a sit-down powerbomb. The new champion gives an outright terrible interview to Jim Ross as she walks towards the dressing room. Isn’t bad for what we get, but the lack of time hurts it.

Despite the bad reputation of the main event, the real stinker of the show is Undertaker vs. Kama in a Casket Match. Kama is like the WWF trying to create Tazz, only they put his gimmick on a guy who can’t wrestle or come off as a badass. The Supreme Fighting Machine is the last stand in Undertaker’s year-long feud with Ted Dibiase’s Million Dollar Corporation after Kama had stolen the urn and melted it into gold chains. Yes, even after taking out the likes of King Kong Bundy and Undertaker’s own evil clone, the big endboss is a guy pretending to be a foremost jujitsu pro. Undertaker starts by tossing Kama around with a double-handed chokeslam. Kama attacks him, only to get tossed onto the ringside casket, causing Kama to freak out. Kama makes attempts to fight back and is paid back with getting tossed into the casket (which has a camera inside of it) and hops out immediately. So far it hasn’t been so bad.

Despite his supposed martial arts style, Kama is slow and sloppy. The most martial arts he gets is doing a spin kick to the stomach. He throws Undertaker into the casket, Undertaker skins the cat and pulls himself back in before throwing Kama back in. Kama escapes by simply punching Undertaker back with one swing. This is when things turn to shit. Kama very boringly works Undertaker over. It goes on and on. Kama clotheslines him onto the top of the casket, which would have won it for him had it been open. Dibiase steps in to kick Undertaker for a bit while Paul Bearer is held back by the referees. Kama tries a piledriver on the casket and gets backdropped into the ring. A “REST IN PEACE!” chant begins, showing that the crowd is still awake somehow. Kama still presses the advantage and momentarily forgets that he’s not able to pin Undertaker here. Or anywhere, really, because he sucks. We get a very lengthy headlock spot (dear God why?) and a clothesline from Kama knocks the both of them over the top rope and into the open casket. The casket closes on them both, Kama tries to get out and Undertaker drags him back in. Back in the ring, Kama hits a neckbreaker and Undertaker responds with a chokeslam and a Tombstone. He puts him in the casket and it’s over.

Now time for Bret “The Hitman” Hart to face Isaac Yankem DDS, presently known as Kane. Yankem towers over Bret and strangles him in the corner before completely overpowering Bret’s general offense. Bret gets himself together and clotheslines him out of the ring, followed with a splash to the outside. The fighting between the two is even until Yankem drops Bret over the top rope. He puts him in a Hangman submission hold and the crowd goes nuts in support of Bret. He ends up flipping over to save himself and rolls up Yankem in a small package. Yankem kicks out and lays into Bret so much that the ref has to pull him by the hair to make him ease off. He clotheslines Bret out of the ring, hits a Guillotine Legdrop from the top rope and still Bret kicks out. A massive “LET’S GO BRET!” chant kicks in. Yankem gets so frustrated that he leaves the ring for a chair. Bret dives out through the ropes and starts pounding on him. He brings him back in, hits all his trademarks and puts him in the Sharpshooter. Jerry Lawler helps Yankem gets his hands on the rope.

Bret backdrops Yankem out of the ring and onto his feet. Yankem surprises him by dragging him from under the bottom rope and beating on him some more. A climb to the top rope ends in disaster when Yankem is tossed into the ring by Bret. Bret ties Yankem’s leg to the corner post and proceeds to brawl with Lawler on the outside. Yankem interrupts with an axehandle off the top. Lawler ends up disqualifying Yankem due to interference and they end up hanging Bret on the ropes. They spend an awful lot of time on this injury angle and within the audience, a kid with a steps haircut is afraid for Bret’s very life! Eventually, Bret angrily gets up and leaves. Bret tries his damnedest to make this watchable, but in the end, Isaac Yankem isn’t ready for prime time.

The thing that gets me is that as ridiculous as a wrestling dentist is, it’s 90’s wrestling and you’re welcome to have a silly gimmick like that. It’s just bizarre to have him debut by feuding with the company’s top workhorse like that. Dentist wrestler? Fine. Giant heel killing Bret Hart upon debut? Fine. Mixing the two? Does not work.

Now for Razor Ramon defending the Intercontinental Championship against “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels in a Ladder Match. I’ll tell you right now, it’s a good match. It’s good. Not great. Good. The fact that it’s a sequel to their Wrestlemania classic makes it hurt. With the belt suspended above them, the two faces look up, push each other back and forth and brawl. Michaels goes for Sweet Chin Music early, but Razor grabs the rope and keeps himself out of range. They brawl some more, Razor’s Edge attempt and Michaels escapes. Razor throws Michaels out of the ring, goes for the ladder and gets jumped. Soon after, Razor gives Michaels a suplex out of the ring and Michaels’ leg lands RIGHT ON THE GUARDRAIL. Fucking ow! The Razor’s Edge is reversed into a whiffed Sweet Chin Music and the two end up clotheslining each other. Razor gets up, delivers a Fallaway Slam and finally gets the ladder. Meanwhile, in the back, Sycho Sid watches on TV. I’ll get back to this madness after the match.

Razor climbs up, gets stopped and is hit with the ladder. Michaels climbs up, gets his pants pulled down and then falls with his leg stuck in the ladder. Razor starts working on the leg using the ladder. This goes on forever and ever. He just will not stop finding new ways of hurting his leg with a ladder and if he does, he’ll just repeat the older stuff. Finally, Razor stops so he can climb the ladder. Michaels, out of desperation, climbs to the top rope and jumps off. He succeeds in knocking Razor off. Meanwhile, Vince McMahon tries to paint them both as really good guys by trying to wonder if every terrible maiming they do to each other is “intentional” or not. Man… So anyway, over the next few minutes we get Michaels throwing Razor into the ladder, a moonsault off of said ladder with half the crowd booing, a splash off the ladder that misses its mark and a slugfest on top the ladder that ends with it falling over and both ending up outside the ring.

Razor brings in a second ladder. As Michaels climbs up, the first ladder, Razor grabs him from behind and drives him down with the Razor’s Edge. He takes way too long to set up his new ladder and after a while, a weak Michaels climbs up the other one. What WOULD have been a good ending is if Michaels was to superkick Razor off his ladder and grab the title. In theory. In practice, the kick happens and Michaels accidentally falls off the ladder after making the reach. That’s okay. There’s a backup plan. Razor sets up the Razor’s Edge in the rope’s direction and gets backdropped out of the ring instead. Michaels climbs the ladder, reaches up and…! And he falls again! You can see that he is really pissed about this. He sets up the ladder, climbs up, finally grabs the title and all the while Razor has to hang out outside the ring like he can’t get up at all. Razor snatches the belt away from the ref, hands it over to Michaels, shakes his hand and fireworks go off as the two competitors hug it out.

Now, here’s one of the things that bugged me outside of the stalling and botching. Throughout the match, Vince and Lawler could not shut up about how whoever won this match would have to defend the title against Sycho Sid at the next PPV. It’s all they could talk about. When something happened to both guys at once, they’d say that Sid would have easy pickings as there’d be nothing left of the winner. That’s all well and good. The following match is the main event and after that, we get Gorilla Monsoon announcing the main event of the next show. The main event is Diesel and Michaels vs. Yokozuna and Owen Hart where every belt is on the line. So what about the Sid match? Hello? This isn’t even one of those last minute decisions that Vince is known for making every week or so. They spent so much time talking up this match only to negate it in fifteen minutes. If you’re wondering, Sid wrestled Henry O. Godwinn at the next PPV instead.

The main even is, of course, Diesel defending the WWF Championship against King Mabel. Mabel gets his badass king entrance where a bunch of poor jobber wrestlers would carry him to the ring on a throne. Before the start, he steals the belt away from the ref and poses. He dominates quickly, dropping Diesel with a shoulderblock and happily proclaims, “I’M GONNA BE THE FIRST BLACK CHAMPION!” Well, hell. If you’re going to build towards that, how are we supposed to treat you as a heel? Diesel fights back and fails to bodyslam the regal rap enthusiast. Instead, he tackles him from behind and knocks him out of the ring. Diesel actually jumps out of the ring onto Mabel, believe it or not! It’s not the cleanest motion, but it works! Big “DIESEL!” chant for that. They fight outside the ring, return inside and Mabel drops Diesel with a Boss Man Slam. Diesel kicks out.

Somewhere along the line, a corner pad had fallen off and Diesel is rammed into it. Mabel sits down on Diesel’s back and has things well in hand. He decides to knock out the ref so that Sir Mo can enter and help him out. All of the sudden, Lex Luger runs in to save the day. The crowd pops for him. As lead-up to the PPV, Luger’s tag partner the British Bulldog had turned heel on Diesel so Diesel’s immediate response is to reward Luger with a punch to the face and clotheslines him out of there. Luger attacks Mo anyway. This would be Luger’s last WWF appearance and I can’t blame him. I remember as a kid when I saw him come out, I had completely forgotten that he was on the roster.

Mabel delivers a belly-to-belly suplex and Diesel kicks out. Mabel’s second-rope splash misses. Since Diesel Jackknifing Mabel was never in the cards, he instead climbs to the second rope and puts him away with a jumping clothesline. Despite some cheering, you can see everyone in the arena leaving in droves as Diesel celebrates his retaining. If ever there was an image that perfectly portrayed that year-long reign, it’s that.


Date: August 3, 1997
Era: New Generation transitioning into Attitude Era
Location: Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Known as: That one where Austin breaks his goddamn neck

Summerslam 97 is a very Russo-written show. Outside of a simple tag match, everything has some kind of gimmick to it. It’s based on the big USA vs. Canada feud where Bret Hart is disgusted with the way America lacks family values and has created a stable of his closest friends and family to go to war. In America, he’s the greatest heel. Elsewhere, he’s the greatest face. He’s set his sights on the title, even if it’s held by the unbeatable Undertaker. The referee is Shawn Michaels, who Bret refuses to respect. Yet Michaels repeatedly insists that he’s going to call it right down the line. In fact, he has to! Or else!

The Atmosphere

The intro is pretty badass. The announcer goes over the three men involved with the main event, especially Bret, and repeatedly states how different things would be if life was fair. In fact, check it out for yourself.

There’s an average Legion of Doom promo and another instance of Michaels claiming he’s going to be impartial, but the rest of the non-match stuff is pretty dire. We get a segment of New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman (who was booed by her people) coming out with the Headbangers to discuss how she’s undone the ban on wrestling shows in New Jersey. Naturally, she had to toss in as many wrestling terms into her work (ie. “I’m going to BODYSLAM those taxes!”) as possible and made it depressing. At one point, Vince McMahon brings attention to future WWF wrestler Tiger Ali Singh looking on in the crowd. God, he sucked. Then there’s the unwatchable fan contest segment where Todd Pettengill hosts a couple fans getting a chance to win a million bucks with a guessing game that’s almost completely impossible. A lot of time is wasted and nobody wins. This would be Pettengill’s final appearance with the company. This is good.

Then newcomer Michael Cole interviews Steve Austin. That right there is proof that evil cannot be destroyed as it will merely take another form. At least Austin yells at him to shut the hell up.

The Matches

Our first match is Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Mankind in a Steel Cage Match. Upon the ringing of the bell, Hunter makes a run for the door and gets dragged back in. He climbs up the cage and gets pulled down. Mankind puts him in the corner, drives his knee into Hunter’s face, yells, “BANG BANG!” in his best Cactus Jack and nails a piledriver. As he goes for the Mandible Claw, Chyna strangles him from behind. Again, the point of having a cage match is negated when someone like Chyna has no trouble interfering. When Mankind tries climbing out, he’s punched directly in the nuts by Chyna. Hunter follows with a superplex and makes the decision not to leave. After all, this is a grudge match and he has things well in hand. He keeps slamming Mankind into the cage over and over again. When he goes for the escape, Mankind grabs his leg. Hunter knocks him back, but Mankind grabs his leg again and pulls him back into the ring. Chyna gets another cheapshot in there, so Hunter gets Mankind and sets up for a suplex. Not only does Mankind reverse the suplex, but he does it into the cage, where Hunter is left hanging upside down. Mankind bounces off the ropes and runs right into him.

They both try to climb out, trade punches and Hunter ends up crotched on the top rope. As he falls, his leg gets tied up. Mankind crawls towards the door and gets it slammed onto his head via Chyna. She follows that by attacking the ref and throwing a chair into the ring. The Pedigree on the chair fails and is turned into a Slingshot, where Hunter is propelled into Chyna. Mankind delivers the double-armed DDT on the chair, climbs out of the ring… then stops. While this is happening, Chyna comes in to drag Hunter out, but then realizes that she’s messed up her cue and returns outside the ring. Mankind removes his mask, opens his shirt to reveal the Dude Love heart painted on his chest and delivers an elbow off the top of the cage. He climbs out again and this time Chyna tries to drag Hunter out through the door in time. Mankind makes it out first and lays outside the ring, barely conscious. The Dude Love theme begins to play and he taps his foot to the music before taking off and hugging a fan dressed as Dude Love. An extremely solid opener.

Goldust goes up against Brian Pillman next with the ruling that if Pillman loses, he’ll have to wear a dress until he wins a match. Pillman sneak attacks Goldust, but Goldust gets a surprise elbow shot off the second rope. Then he kisses Pillman, making him even more rage-filled to the point that he leaves the ring to cool off. Pillman takes control of the match, but stops in order to chase Marlena around the ring. In his hunt, he he falls prey to a Goldust clothesline. At one point, Pillman is on the top rope and gets thrown into what’s supposed to be a crotching spot on the top rope, but is overshot and goes out onto the floor. He grabs Marlena as a shield, which helps put him back into the game and take it to Goldust. He hits a top-rope clothesline and then goes for a resthold for a bit. Goldust fights out of it, they exchange punches, Goldust goes for a bulldog and gets tossed off instead. The ending is a complete botch as Goldust attempts a Sunset Flip that falls apart, but Pillman reaches for the ropes regardless, gets hit in the face with Marlena’s purse and is pulled down for a pin. After the match, he goes into a complete fit over his new forced wardrobe. It’s a pretty okay match marred by some botchy moments.

The Godwinns (Henry O. Godwinn and Phineas I. Godwinn) face the Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal). It’s a grudge match as a Doomsday Device in a previous match accidentally gave Henry a neck injury that would later end his career and the Godwinns reacted by trying to break the LOD’s necks on purpose. The teams face off and LOD attacks. In the madness, Hawk delivers a jumping DDT off the apron on Henry. The Godwinns get their hands on Animal and bring him up for a double Atomic Drop, which he escapes by rolling out of, landing on his feet, bouncing off the ropes and clotheslining them both. It continues to go back and forth with Henry missing a Guillotine Legdrop on Hawk and then being tossed into the steps while Phineas later puts Hawk in a Hangman in an attempt to injure his neck. Once it becomes Animal vs. Henry, things slow to a complete crawl. Phineas bearhugs Animal until Animal claps his way out (I miss seeing that as a counter). He’s still beaten down via double-teaming. Phineas leaps off the second rope, eats a really bad-looking clothesline counter and Animal gets his hot tag to Hawk.

Since Hawk is the best worker of the four, he finally speeds it up and delivers a couple nice clotheslines. He gives Henry a neckbreaker, only to have Phineas break the pin. They set up for the Doomsday Device. Phineas shoves Henry off of Animal’s shoulders, not realizing that it makes himself a sitting duck for Hawk’s flying clothesline. They punish Henry with a spiked piledriver and pin him. Pretty sluggish hoss tag team match right there.

Our next contest has “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith defend the European Championship against “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock. The gamble here is that if Bulldog loses the title, he promises to eat a can of dog food. The two go at it immediately with punches and Shamrock delivers one of his textbook belly-to-belly suplexes. He keeps on him until walking right into a boot to the face. Bulldog takes over, tosses Shamrock’s shoulder into the corner post to the point that Shamrock falls out of the ring, then throws him into the steps. Though Shamrock fights back ever so briefly, it’s nipped in the bud with a low blow. Bulldog plays around with him some more, bodyslams him on the outside floor and tosses the dog food into Shamrock’s face. Shamrock snaps, hits Bulldog with the can and gets himself disqualified. Now, the match has been pretty average. I like both guys, but they don’t exactly mesh too well. That said, the match ending makes up for a lot of it.

Shamrock proceeds to shove the refs away and chokes Bulldog with an illegal sleeper. He holds it for a long while to the point that Bulldog’s face turns really red. He then gets off of him and suplexes five officials before yelling, “GET OUT OF MY WAY!” The crowd chants his name because holy shit that kind of ruled.

The show hasn’t been so bad so far. Sure, the backstage happenings are horrible and the tag match wasn’t so fun, but we got two average matches and a great opener out of it, right? What could go so wrong that it would drop the show into the “second worst” spot on the list?

Look no further than Disciples of the Apocalypse (Crush, Chainz, Skull and 8-Ball) vs. Los Boricuas (Savio Vega, Miguel Perez Jr., Jose Estrada Jr., and Jesus Castillo). This is part of an angle where the Nation of Domination had gotten rid of Crush and Savio to become more about being black dudes kicking it together. This caused Crush to start his own stable of white bikers and Savio to start his own stable of latinos in tacky outfits. The problem here is the same as the problem with the Hart Family vs. Knights match at Survivor Series back in the early 90’s. You can’t make us care about clones when they aren’t given any identity. Crush and Savio aren’t even that interesting at this point. What makes you think we’d care if there were three more of each?

DoA clear the ring. Los Boricuas try their luck on a one-on-one basis with Jose delivering a bulldog on Skull. Skull no-sells it, delivers a boot and the DoA guys take turns on beating up Jose. Savio delivers a sudden spinning heel kick that turns the tide and his boys start to gang up on Skull. During this, the Nation of Domination walk to the ring through the crowd and I come to notice that Ahmed Johnson has never had a single match at Summerslam during his time with the company. The match gets really dull with the only thing making it in any way watchable being Chainz’s gusto whenever he’s tagged in. The ring fills up, Chainz hits Ahmed on the outside, Ahmed responds with a Pearl River Plunge on the concrete, Jesus Castillo delivers an elbow from the top rope and pins him. Then a big brawl breaks out among all three groups, though Los Boricuas sneak off. Crush rides his motorcycle around, which I guess is meant to scare people off, but instead everyone just kind of grapples and punches each other while stepping to the side so he can get through. What a dud.

The next match is also uncomfortable to watch, but for a completely different reason. It’s Owen Hart defending the Intercontinental Championship against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin where if Austin fails to win the title, he promises to kiss Owen’s ass. Owen came out of these Summerslam dealings the safest of the Hart Foundation, now that I think about it. Everyone else has to do something terrible if they lose. Owen merely has to not be Intercontinental Champion. I’ve done that my entire life. And come to think of it, Bret is up against the possibility of never wrestling in America and I haven’t wrestled in America. And there was that time I had to cut my food bill in half due to unemployment and settled for Kibbles and Bits. And there’s that phase in college when… Listen, my point is that the Hart Foundation is a bunch of pussies.

Owen unties the corner post before Austin’s entrance. When Austin’s doing his entrance routine, Owen attacks his knee. Austin fights back with a Lou Thesz Press and throws Owen around by the hair. When Owen appears to outsmart Austin and taunts to the crowd, Austin tears into him. He keeps getting the best of Owen until a surprise elbow brings Austin out of the ring. Owen presses the advantage on the outside, brings him in and bites down on the middle finger with intent to break it. I’m surprised nobody else has tried that. It’s adorably symbolic. He ties Austin into the ropes and makes a run at him. Austin frees himself and delivers a Stun Gun across the top rope. Owen jumps up for a hurricanrana, which Austin turns into a powerbomb. After being clotheslined out, Owen figures he’ll leave. After all, it means Austin will have to kiss his ass since he won’t win the title. Austin chases him and puts an end to that possibility.

Owen surprises him with a belly-to-belly suplex and spends the next while working on Austin’s neck with a variety of different moves. I will say that one of the things that makes this uncomfortable is knowing what’s going to happen but not being sure when. So even when Owen picks up Austin for a bodyslam, I wince. Austin makes a comeback and even goes for the Sharpshooter, but his good fortune doesn’t last. German suplexes, Camel Clutches, neck vices, DDTs and so on are applied. Owen puts Austin in a sleeper and it’s reversed into a jawbreaker. Still, Owen holds on to his winning status. He puts him in a chinlock with his legs on the ropes until the ref makes him break it. Austin gets a comeback until running into a tilt-a-whirl into a Tombstone piledriver where Owen sits down. As many of you know, Owen screws this up and has Austin’s head too far down, breaking his neck. Owen doesn’t know what to do and proceeds to taunt to the crowd a lot, proclaiming that, oh yes, this man is going to kiss his ass. Austin weakly grabs him and holds him down with the saddest roll-up you’ve ever seen. Austin wins, but at a serious price. Despite his badass “don’t need no help” demeanor in previous matches, he needs the refs to help him stand. As he walks to the back with their assistance, he holds his hands up very weakly. It’s incredibly unfortunate.

Before that? It’s a great match. It could have been the second best match of the night had it gone through without a hitch, but that’s not the world we live in. I couldn’t bring myself to give this a good score and instead dropped it down by half.

At least we have the main event with Undertaker defending the WWF Championship against Bret “The Hitman” Hart with Shawn Michaels as the referee. If Bret fails to capture the title, he cannot wrestle in America. If Michaels doesn’t call it down the middle, he’ll be banned from wrestling. Before the match, “O Canada” is played, which is met with boos. Michaels gets his own entrance, which causes Lawler to joke, “Now all the other referees are gonna want pyro!” During the pre-match routine, Bret takes the title belt and beats Undertaker with it. The bell hasn’t rung yet, so he can’t be disqualified. Undertaker, being nigh invincible, throws him into the corner and pummels him until Bret escapes. Undertaker throws Bret into the post on the outside, runs into it and Bret dodges. He takes advantage of this opening by throwing the Deadman into the steps. Michaels does not approve of this, natch. When Bret jumps off the apron at Undertaker, he’s caught and driven into the post. Michaels warns him not to do it again and Undertaker does it again out of spite.

Undertaker puts Bret in a bearhug, which Bret escapes from with biting, only to run right into a boot. Bret gets it back regardless and works on Undertaker’s leg. During all of this, Michaels is having a hard time holding onto his authority. He and Bret hate each other on a personal level and Undertaker just doesn’t care about what Michaels has to say. Bret applies the Figure Four, just as Undertaker’s former manager Paul Bearer arrives to taunt him. Undertaker turns the move over to reverse it until Bret reaches the rope and has the move released. Undertaker leaves the match to attack Paul Bearer, but it allows Bret to clip his knee from behind. He puts the Figure Four on him again, but this time from the corner post. Owen and Pillman appear to give their support as Bret slams Undertaker’s knee into the post to the rising anger of one Shawn Micahels. Undertaker regroups and ends up exiting the ring to beat up Owen and Pillman. He follows that up with a chokeslam on Bret, but Michaels is too distracted by the Owen/Pillman situation to notice the pinning position. This pisses Undertaker off a lot. Bret holds his own some more and keeps Undertaker down with a series of different moves, but just can’t seem to put him away. A Sharpshooter is met with a choke and then a kick into the corner. Undertaker starts to work on Bret and gives him a chokeslam from the apron to the ring. He prepares for Old School, but gets crotched on the ropes. Bret hits a superplex and applies the Sharpshooter, but Undertaker powers out and actually forces him out of the ring.

Bret reapplies the Sharpshooter, but this time around the corner post. During the escape, Bret is forced into Michaels, taking him out for a second. Bret gets desperate, steals a chair and hits Undertaker with it without Michaels seeing. Undertaker kicks out. Michaels notices the chair lying around and gets in Bret’s grill about it. Bret responds by spitting right in his face. Michaels can’t take it anymore and swings the chair in Bret’s direction. Bret dodges it and Michaels pastes Undertaker in the skull. Whoops! Bret pins Undertaker, Michaels makes the most reluctant count ever and the ring fills with garbage while Bret celebrates his latest win.

I’d easily call that the best match of the Undertaker’s career by that point. Unfortunately, with the mostly average card, the Austin injury, the terrible gang warfare match and some amazing wastes of time from Todd Pettingill and Christine Whitman, it ends up being weighed down. A shame.

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

One comment to “The Summerslam Countdown: Day One”

  1. Okay I guess ’95 was pretty bad then. My favorite part of King Mabel is the Sir Mo moniker, I don’t know why I but I always loved that.