Like last month’s review (Beach Blast 1993), this Summerslam has a special place in my heart simply because it was the first Summerslam I watched live on pay-per-view. And similar to Beach Blast, this show’s main event had a ludicrous storyline that involved two Undertakers. But that wasn’t the only major storyline going into this one. Inside of a fifteen-foot high steel cage, brothers and rivals alike Bret Hart and Owen Hart did battle to determine who would be the WWF champion. Lets see if Summerslam is hot enough to be scary good.
1. Irwin R. Schyster & Bam Bam Bigelow defeated The Headshrinkers
2. Alundra Blayze defeated Bull Nakano to successfully defend the WWF Women’s title
3. Razor Ramon defeated Diesel to win the Intercontinental title
4. Tatanka defeated Lex Luger
5. Jeff Jarrett defeated Mabel
6. Bret Hart defeated Owen Hart in a Steel Cage Match to successfully defend the WWF title
7. The Undertaker defeated The Undertaker
Albano’s Managerial Expertise Didn’t Spread: The opening contest was supposed to be for the WWF Tag Team title, but The Headshrinkers dropped the title to Shawn Michaels and Diesel one night earlier at an untelevised event. Why? I guess the Kliq needed more gold.
But that didn’t stop Samu & Fatu and their would-be challengers in Bam Bam Bigelow & Irwin R. Shyster from doing their best in giving the fans a good match. Considering the men involved, you wouldn’t expect a fast paced match featuring double super kicks and enzuguris happening, but that’s exactly what did occur in less than three minutes from The Headshrinkers and Bam Bam respectively. Things were looking up for The Headshrinkers until an errant Irish whip toward Bigelow saw Fatu take a nasty spill to the floor. Fatu became the partner in peril for only a minute, leading to a hot tag and The Headshrinkers tearing into IRS. Then everything hit the fan as Bigelow and IRS’ manager “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase jumped onto the apron to distract the ref so Bam could save IRS from taking a pin fall. So what did one of The Headshrinkers’ managers – Afa – do? Afa jumped into the ring and wore out Bam Bam! Of course DiBiase let the ref see Afa’s interference so his team could win off of a DQ.
Everything about this match was going great until the ending. You have three relatively large men throwing themselves at each other for almost ten minutes without slowing down much in front of a hot crowd. Outside of the bad finish, you had a really good opener.
Showing You What Real Women Do: Luna Vachon didn’t take losing well. The best example of this occurred during the mid 90s when she couldn’t best Alundra Blayze (also known as Madusa from her WCW days and as a monster truck driver) for the WWF Women’s title. So what did Luna do to gain a measure of revenge? Vachon hired the female, Japanese version of Vader in Bull Nakano (yes, Aja Kong could also have that distinction for all of you nitpickers). Instead of playing around with the much larger and scarier Nakano, Madusa dove in head first (or should I write feet first since she came in dropkicking Bull), only to run into a brick wall. Pretty much that was the story of the match as Madusa looked for opportunity after opportunity to turn the match in her favor, but Nakano would either knock her down using her size advantage or put her down with innovative holds like a standing sharpshooter.
High impact moves like the hurricarana from Blayze ended with her getting power bombed; yet the champion kept fighting. The crowd, who was pretty apathetic to the match at the start, really began to come around as Blayze made a roaring comeback after Blayze avoided a guillotine leg drop. Before Bull could recover, Alundra German suplexed her way to victory to a great ovation.
In the grand scheme of things, the WWF Women’s title meant as much here as the Divas title means now. But no matter how much prestige is associated with the belt, it’s always better to watch two women who can actually wrestle fight over it; and that’s what you got here. Arguably, this is the most proficient WWF/WWE Women’s title match in history. Even better was the fact they turned a dead crowd on its ears before it was all said and done. Excellent match!
Who Likes Gold? The Kliq Likes Gold: The opening contest was supposed to be for the WWF Tag Team title, but The Headshrinkers dropped the title to Shawn Michaels and Diesel one night earlier at an untelevised event. Why? I guess the Kliq needed more gold to add to the Intercontinental title already strapped around his waist. To stop the annoying gnat that was Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon enlisted the services of NFL Hall of Famer Walton Payton as corner man for the evening.
Sadly for Razor, after his initial onslaught he found himself on the floor, being wailed on by “Big Daddy Cool”. During Diesel’s assault on Ramon, Michaels removed one of the top turnbuckle pads without the hindrance of the referee or Payton. The pure domination of Diesel didn’t stop the fans from getting behind the challenger. That crowd support helped Ramon turn things around when he reversed an abdominal stretch before shoving Diesel chest first against the unprotected steel turnbuckle. Ramon kept the momentum going, gaining the attention of Michaels.
For the first time in the match, Payton finally did a good job of deterring Michaels’ interference by yanking the IC title belt from HBK. Little did Payton know that this was just a distraction for Michaels to enter the ring as the referee jumped to stop whatever Payton had in mind with that belt. Michaels entered the ring, looking to unleash Sweet Chin Music on Razor. At the last second, Razor ducked the incoming kick from Shawn, causing Michaels to knock his own boy out. Flustered, HBK left the ring as Razor threw his arm over Diesel to become a two time IC champion.
While everyone talks about Diesel’s matches with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels (and to a lesser extent The Undertaker) being some of his stuff in the WWF, it’s hard to deny how underrated this match is. Both men seemed incredibly motivated to steal the show, and did just that until another match occurred later on.
It’s A Steel Cage Brotherhood: One of wrestling’s greatest brotherly rivalries began ten months before Bret Hart and Owen Hart clashed at Summerslam. Their first meeting on live television occurred at Wrestlemania X where Owen shocked the world by pinning his big brother clean. But later that night, Bret became the WWF champion by pinning Yokozuna. In an attempt to one up his brother, Owen became the King of the Ring three months after his win over the future WWF champion with the help of Bret’s old Hart Foundation partner Jim Neidhart. So to finally prove his superiority over his big brother and become the WWF champion, Owen challenged Bret to a Steel Cage match that would happen Summerslam.
It didn’t take long before everyone knew what the strategy was for both men – get in and get out as fast as you can. Bret hit a DDT and made a climb, only to be stopped. Owen took his brother’s spot, with Bret in hot pursuit. In reality, it was rinse and repeat. But the sheer magnificence of what happened during those moments is hard to look down upon. Barely ten minutes into this contest, Owen realized that his mad dashes for escape would only work if Bret were thoroughly incapacitated. Using his incredible agility, Owen would execute something a like a missile dropkick, nip up, and then go for the climb. Midway through, they were both scrambling for the door when maneuvers like Bret’s slingshot into the cage or Owen’s piledriver seemingly did their jobs.
Showing the heart of a champion, Bret took everything his brother threw and paid him back ten fold. A perfect example of this came during the closing moments. Owen dropped Bret with a spinning heel kick, going for a climb rather than exit through the door. This momentary lapse in judgment and the crowd behind Bret saw the champion valiantly, yet painfully chase after Owen, grabbing him by the head like Bret and Owen had done to each other during the match’s closest of calls, and superplexed Owen into the ring for atop the cage in one swift, elegant motion. By the end, the match literally became race topped off by a fistfight. With both men dangling over the destination, Bret and Owen threw hands until Bret switched his plan, slamming Owen face first into the cage. Owen fell backwards, but got his left leg hung in the cage, allowing Bret to jump down to secure victory.
Easily one of, if not the best Steel Cage matches in wrestling history. It didn’t rely on gratuitous violence or absurd tactics. All you had was two men doing their best to get out of the cage as quickly as possible without suffering too much damage. While they were unsuccessful in their goal, the eternal struggle that it was overshadowed anything done before this match and eventually after on this show. To this day I don’t know why this wasn’t the main event. I can’t recommend this match enough.
Isn’t Green The Most Natural Color: Coming off of the King of the Ring, Tatanka – thanks to the multiple random occurrences – believed Lex Luger had sold out to Ted DiBiase like Bam Bam Bigelow. Luger denied so much that he decided to fight Tatanka to prove his innocence; and fight he did. Luger did a great job overwhelming Tatanka in the early going with the crowd behind him. Then things went downhill and for the majority of the six-minute match saw Luger doing his best to fight back. Just when Luger’s clotheslines gained him some momentum, Ted DiBiase came out with a bag of money. The distraction by DiBiase allowed Tatanka to roll Luger up for the victory.
After the match, the truth was revealed as Tatanka laid Luger out to prove his allegiance to the Million Dollar Corporation.
While it wasn’t a bad match, and the heel turn actually went off well even though a lot of people seemingly already knew what was up, the match itself just felt blah from bell to bell. Ultimately, the beginning (the storyline) and the end (Tatanka’s turn) are the only things worth remembering here.
Country vs. Rap: With no real back story outside of the ongoing struggle between country music and rap music in the media, Jeff Jarrett took on Mabel in a match that saw Mabel do his best to crush Jeff; only for Jarrett to play Road Runner to Mabel’s Coyote. Add that to the fact the WWF was trying to connect to the MLB strike by having Abe “Knuckleball” Swartzch holding his “I’m on strike” sign. But not even ol’ “Knuckleball” could save this one as Mabel missed a splash off of Jarrett’s failed sunset flip. With Mabel playing Humpty Dumpty, Jarrett hooked Mabel’s massive legs to win.
There was absolutely nothing memorable about this match other than oddity of seeing a big black guy named Mabel being pinned by a main you could mistake for a woman with the way Jarrett’s hair was at the time.
There’s Two Undertakers And No One Seems To Care: At the 1994 Royal Rumble, The Undertaker, as Todd Petengill put it, went where Undertakers go when he was buried by almost all of the undercard heels in a casket. Months later, Ted DiBiase – who debuted The Undertaker for his Survivor Series team over three years ago at this point – said he ‘Taker back in his control. When Undertaker’s manager Paul Bearer confronted DiBiase’s ‘Taker, he found out that this person wasn’t his Undertaker. So Bearer went on a search for the real Undertaker alongside comedian Leslie Nielson. Well, not alongside Nielson, but Leslie did join the search. With a great revelation, Bearer promised his Undertaker would vanquish DiBiase’s.
The crowd was electric when The Undertaker and The Undertaker faced off. That excitement helped make the frenetic pace of purple gloved ‘Taker – Bearer’s Undertaker – punching gray gloved ‘Taker – DiBiase’s Undertaker – until he was on the ropes, ready for a clothesline that sent DiBiase’s Undertaker to the floor. And from that point on, the crowd died. It didn’t help that the majority of the match saw Bearer’s Undertaker beat up Gray ‘Taker, only for DiBiase’s ‘Taker to rise up like nothing ever happened. The conclusion of this nine minute zombie shuffle came when Gray ‘Taker failed to execute a second Tombstone Piledriver (yes, one of the most deadly finishers in WWF couldn’t put down Purple Undertaker), leaving himself open for The Undertaker we would eventually, a.k.a. “Already knew”, confirm himself as the real Undertaker by Tombstoning the Gray ‘Taker. To add some nails to this decaying coffin, the real Undertaker Tombstoned the fake one two more times to signal the end of this absurd rivalry – and that’s not even mentioning the Leslie Nielson stuff (and I like Nielson).
For those who haven’t seen this match before, and want to think about seeing it, think again. This isn’t the crisp, almost high impact Undertaker you know and love today. This is two slow, plodding wrestlers hitting each other without much aura or feel. Honestly, if this wasn’t the main event, it might have gone over better than the fart in church that it is.
Is It A Classic: Definitely a show of hills and valleys. Thankfully, outside of the crater of a main event, there was nothing incredibly bad about this show. You just had a couple of matches that were either boring or uneventful. But to counteract the valleys were peaks that will last with you for a long time (specifically the Women’s title and WWF title matches). While it’s not a homerun, Summerslam 1994 is definitely worth a viewing and/or a purchase for the Steel Cage match alone.