*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***
SummerSlam 1994: Hart Family Reunion
August 29, 1994
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler
Host: Randy Savage
Buy Rate: 1.3
Adam Bomb defeated Kwang
*** This is Randy Savage’s last WWF PPV appearance. In October, he decided to not re-sign with the WWF, as Vince McMahon wanted him to stay in the commentary booth, while Savage felt like he still had plenty left in the tank as a wrestler. Vince gave Savage a nice send off on an October Raw, wishing him the best. Savage would show up on WCW Saturday Night in December, and remain there until 2000. He would have some good feuds and matches in WCW during his six year run, but watching this show you feel that his career is effectively over, since he was such a vital part of the WWF landscape since his debut in 1985. Savage had not appeared on live WWF/E TV since October of 1994. Savage would make a few appearances in TNA in 2004 before disappearing from wrestling altogether. His fractured relationship with WWE was on the mend as WWE released a DVD retrospective of his matches and Savage would appear as an action figure and in the WWE All Stars game. Sadly Savage’s life came to an end in May 2011 when he suffered a heart attack while driving his car and crashed into a tree. It was a devastating blow to the business as one of its great icons was taken away from us far too soon. In 2015, Savage was finally inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The Macho Man will never ever be forgotten as one of the true legends of this business. OHHHH YEAHHHH! ***
Pay Per View
1) IRS and Bam Bam Bigelow defeat the Headshrinkers by disqualification at 7:18
Fun Fact: This was originally for the tag team titles, but the Headshrinkers lost the titles to Shawn Michaels and Diesel on the August 28 house show in Indianapolis. The title change was mentioned for the first time on Live! With Regis and Kathy Lee, as Shawn and Diesel were guests on the show the morning of SummerSlam. Jerry Lawler mentions the title change at the top of the broadcast.
Fun Fact II: This is the first PPV appearance of the heel faction that was formed back in April, the Million Dollar Corporation. Ted DiBiase was brought back into the WWF as a manager in early 1994 after he had suffered a career ending injury in Japan in late ‘93. His initial recruits were Nikolai Volkoff and Bam Bam Bigelow. They were soon joined with DiBiase’s old tag team partner, Irwin R. Schyster. DiBiase also began claiming that he would bring The Undertaker back after an absence from the company. On the June 11 episode of Superstars, DiBiase brought out his Undertaker (Brian Lee) during a segment of Heartbreak Hotel. The faction would continue to grow over the next few months, so stay tuned…
Scott: We open up this beautiful new building in the Windy City with a tag team match that was supposed to be a title match. The previous night at Market Square Arena the Headshrinkers lost the tag straps to Shawn Michaels & Diesel. On the other side of the ledger Ted DiBiase is starting a new heel faction called the Million Dollar Corporation. His first two guys are his former tag team championship partner IRS, and floating aimlessly heel Bam Bam Bigelow. Together they can help charge up the heel side of the ledger. Already with big time personalities like Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels and Diesel adding a faction to the mix can really boost what seems like a flat babyface side other that Bret Hart and Razor Ramon. DiBiase ditched his old removable tuxedo and now has this strange sequined cardigan sweater. I always thought that looked so strange. The match is typical tag team fare but this crowd is really jacked up. One sad moment to note, although at the moment we didn’t know it; Out came Randy Savage to get the crowd pumped up before the show, but after that we never see him on PPV again. He would emerge in WCW a few months later. I thought the heels should have gone over clean to add some juice to this new group but instead we get a lame disqualification and random brawling in the ring. The heels do win, but a clean (or dirty) pinfall would have worked better. Grade: **
Justin: We open our seventh SummerSlam with our Master of Ceremonies Randy Savage making what would be his final WWF PPV appearance. Sad times for sure, but also a sign that we really are finally moving into a new era, led by a new generation of stars. Our opening bout was originally scheduled to have the tag team titles on the line, but the Headshrinkers dropped the straps to Shawn Michaels and Diesel two nights before this show. It ended a fairly inauspicious reign by the Samoans, and here they battle the foundation of the brand new Million Dollar Corporation. Since returning in January, Ted DiBiase has putted around the announce booth on various shows before eventually deciding to get into the managerial game. The whole thing started a sway to mock Nikolai Volkoff and torture Paul Bearer but soon enough, the Corporation expanded. Picking up IRS was a no brainer, as they are former tag team champions and running buddies. Bigelow was a nice grab as well, as he had a been a bit aimless lately. With Bammer hooking up with DiBiase, his main squeeze no longer accompanied him to the ring. Even though they lost their belts, that golddigger Lou Albano is still with the Headshrinkers here. I never really understood why DiBiase started wearing this odd velour tuxedo track suit mess instead of a legitimate suit or tux of some sort. Made him look a bit low rent. The Shrinkers are still presented as a top act here, even without their belts, as they get some dimmed lights during their entrance and are wearing giant headdresses as well. Bigelow and Fatu opened things up, tussling at SummerSlam for the second straight year. They would trade some heavy blows, with Bigelow landing the biggest ones, including an enziguri. Bammer went for the kill strike quickly but came up empty on his top rope headbutt. Samu would tag in and Bigelow would escape him long enough to tag in IRS, but that went poorly as Samu ran right through him. After avoiding a cross body, IRS charged wildly and ended up sailing over the top rope when Samu ducked. Irwin was a mess as the Samoans pinballed him back and forth, looking sharp and focused. Bigelow would turn the tide by yanking down the top rope, causing Fatu to crash hard to the floor but things were evened up right after when the two beasts collided in the middle of the ring. The crowd did their best to rally the Shrinkers as both men tagged out. Samu was on fire, running through both of DiBiase’s charges with ease. After a double facebuster, Fatu hit a splash off the top on Fatu but the referee was tied up with DiBiase and couldn’t count. Albano would get on the apron but Bigelow slugged him, drawing in Afa to start hammering away, drawing a DQ in the process. The Samoans would run off the Corporation and they would all brawl to the back as the crowd got riled up. I have never cared for that finish as I think the Shrinkers taking a loss here would have been fine. They could have played off the title change hangover and given Bigelow & IRS a strong victory to kick off their partnership. Either way, it was a fine match and the crowd was into it. Bigelow looked great as always and the Shrinkers stayed hot too. The question now is…which team will step up to the new champs? Grade: **
2) Alundra Blaze defeats Bull Nakano to retain WWF Women’s Title with a German Suplex at 8:15
Fun Fact: This is the first time the Women’s Title was contested at a SummerSlam.
Fun Fact II: This is the first, and sadly, last WWF PPV appearance for Bull Nakano. Bull would actually win the WWF Women’s title from Blayze on November 27th, 1994 at the Egg Dome in Tokyo, and was interviewed at the Survivor Series. Originally, the plan was for her to feud with Bertha Faye while Blayze was out getting surgery, but she would be released in April 1995 after she was found with cocaine. Bull dropped the title back to Blayze on the 4/3 RAW. Bull would wrestle in Japan over the summer before joining WCW in the fall of 1995. She would stick around there for some time, reuniting with Madusa and had another solid feud with a great match at Hog Wild 1996. Bull stepped away from the ring in 1997 after a brief stint in Japan and became a professional golfer the following year. She would sporadically wrestle over the next few years, and would eventually make the LPGA tour in 2006. In January 2012, Bull officially retired from professional wrestling at the age of 44. Nakano had made her WWF TV debut by wrestling Blayze to a double count-out on the 8/1 Raw.
Scott: Our first title match of the evening is much more than just a placeholder match. These two have a burgeoning rivalry that has been going on domestically and eventually overseas as well. It may not be a large division but these two wrestle with some extra intensity that in 1994 you didn’t see from women’s wrestling in any division and certainly not in the WWF. Nakano is a beast who can really hit her power moves and then ties up Blayze with that awesome Sharpshooter-type submission move. Blayze battles back from it and eventually dodges a diving leg drop for the victory and retains the Women’s Title. I actually was hoping the match was going to be a little longer because there was definitely a story to keep telling in this match. The feud doesn’t end and the matches get better but on this night the champion retains. Grade: ***
Justin: Up next is our first title match of the evening and for the first time since WrestleMania, the Women’s Title is up for grabs. Alundra Blazye has really controlled the division but over the summer, Luna Vachon imported Japanese star Bull Nakano to take a run at the gold. Nakano actually had a brief run with the WWF in the late 80s, but that wasn’t mentioned at all here. Bull had a great heel look and of course the vintage Orient Express theme music. They really worked to make Blayze look like a star as they rebuild this division, giving her a big cape and a somewhat dramatic introduction. Importing Bull was a good call with what was proven to be a dearth of American based talent available to bring in. The challenger wasted no time going at the champ, but Blayze came back with a dropkick, trying to work a fast pace. After dodging a second dropkick, Bull violently went to work, spiking Alundra hard to the mat by her head and then crushing her with a legdrop for a near fall. Blayze would survive a rear chinlock, but Bull kept the pressure coming, leaning on Blayze and just smashing her into the mat with abandon. The champ started to rally with a headscissors takeover but Bull caught her in a choke and then drilled her with a tree slam before hooking in a one armed Boston Crab. Bull continued to work the back, including an awesome looking surfboard style submission hold that bent the champ in half. The challenger continued to empty the playbook, but Blayze wouldn’t give in and eventually came back with a flurry that again was cut short almost immediately. After a vicious clothesline, Alundra avoided a charge and tried another headscissors, but Bull countered to a powerbomb for a near fall. Bull would take her time heading up top, allowing Alundra to avoid a legdrop. After smacking Luna, Blayze took Bull over with the German suplex to grab the win to a huge pop. What a great match and the Chicago crowd seemed to agree. Blayze took a shit kicking but hung on until she found her opening, taking advantage of Bull’s big error. This iteration of the women’s division is a pretty far cry from the previous installment, at least to this point anyway. Bull looks to regroup but Alundra blazes on. Grade: ***
3) Razor Ramon defeats Diesel to win WWF Intercontinental Title after Shawn Michaels accidentally superkicks Diesel at 15:00
Fun Fact: Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels had been locked in a major feud over the IC title dating back to late 1993. Razor’s ladder match win at WrestleMania X solidified him as the champ, until Shawn’s bodyguard Diesel stepped into the picture. On the April 13 episode of Superstars, Ramon lost the championship to Diesel. The feud rolled through the summer with a rematch for the belt set for SummerSlam. To even the odds at ringside, Ramon enlisted the services of a notable Chicago star, Walter Payton, for the match.
Scott: Well with two Kliq members in the ring you know this will be a solid match. Big Daddy Cool was on the verge of being fired when 1994 began. A tremendous Rumble performance, a World Title shot and now he walks into Chicago with two belts around his waist. Razor has also had a great 1994. Successful title defenses throughout the first half of the year and even with the title loss he got to the finals of KOTR and now gets his rematch here. The only thing that gets a thumbs down involving the Bad Guy are those hideous yellow t-shirts the WWF made. My buddy Gary had one of those and they are truly horrendous. Razor comes out with a sequined tights and powder blue boots. I miss the heel red he wore in 1993. The crowd is crazy as Razor is seconded by former Bears great Walter Payton, wearing that aforementioned hideous t-shirt. The early part of the match is Diesel & Michaels double teaming Razor in different ways and a loose turnbuckle pad that’s being bantered about by Vince and Lawler. Diesel then works in an abdominal stretch while Shawn helps with some extra leverage. Razor Ramon is a big guy but seeing him in peril against the bigger Diesel was a unique dynamic that actually worked. I don’t know why because visually it’s not that much a disparagement. I thought the Michaels’ interference was a bit much and took away from what could have been a more highly rated match. Diesel has things in control, but Shawn for some reason wants to add his own exclamation point and goes for Sweet Chin Music but instead he boots Diesel in the face and Razor regains the IC Title. I really loved the match and from here we see the cracks in Diesel and Michaels’ relationship. More on that in our next review but for now, the Bad Guy wins his third IC Championship. Grade: ***
Justin: With Diesel and Shawn Michaels piling up gold, it was clear that big things were in store for both men. This feud has pretty much been raging since December and now Razor looks t finally regain the gold that was stolen from him back in April. Michaels had returned to action a few weeks before this show, but was kept in the cornerman role here anyway. Razor Ramon has Chicago Bear legend Walter Payton in his corner to help negate Michaels and also rally even more crowd support. Diesel looked pretty bad ass as he strutted out with two title belts held high up above his head. Sadly, not even Sweetness could make the awful yellow Razor shirt look bad ass. This felt like a big time match thanks to the lengthy build, the presence and importance of the gold and Payton being involved. Razor had some pretty snazzy tights here as they were a bit of a zebra pattern as opposed to the usual solid color. Razor brought the heat early, knocking Diesel outside to the delight of the fans. Diesel has really come a long way with his presence and attitude, a complete 180 from even WrestleMania. The confidence is really oozing from him now. The big man would get back in the ring and lay into Razor with tight strikes that focused on the lower back. Razor tried to battle back twice, but Diesel stopped him short with a clothesline and a back elbow. Shawn was really active at ringside as usual and you had to wonder if he could outwork Sweetness like he did Jim Neidhart back at King of the Ring. Diesel would cut off another comeback with a sleeperhold but the crowd rallied Razor to break it with a back suplex. However, the Bad Guy would make a mistake, trying a wild charge that ended with Diesel chucking him to the floor. As the referee was tied up with Diesel, Michaels tore off the turnbuckle pad, just as he had done many times before, including in the Superstars title change. As Michaels tried to stalk the challenger, Payton stepped in between and backed him off. However, Michaels used a ref diversion to fly around the ring and crack Ramon with a leaping clothesline. That was some great heel work. Just as Diesel was about to use the exposed buckle, Payton pointed it out to Earl Hebner, leading to the ref blocking the corner. However, after a Shawn distraction, Diesel flung Razor into the steel hard and then crunched him with a sidewalk slam and snake eyes. The dynamic between the tag champs is fantastic and has grown so much since Shawn took his sabbatical. Razor would escape another wear down hold but ate a big boot on another wild charge. Diesel would slow things down with an abdominal stretch, but Razor turned couldn’t muster up much offense after reversing it. The cham would try another snake eyes, but Razor slipped free and shove Diesel into the exposed buckle. Ramon finally caught fire, tossing some heavy blows at Diesel. Everything hays been heavy handed and well delivered in this one. The crowd erupted as Razor hit a bulldog off this middle ope, but Diesel barely stayed alive. Razor would try for his back superplex, but Diesel elbowed his way out of it. The challenger would block a Jackknife but a Shawn distraction led to a Diesel flying shoulderblock. Michaels tried to strike again, grabbing the title belt, but Sweetness tied him up and yanked the belt away. With the referee tied up with Payton, Michaels snuck in the ring and tried to superkick Ramon, but Razor ducked and Shawn drilled his partner instead. As Payton neutralized Michaels, Razor covered and regained his gold as the crowd exploded. Man, that match is so good and the crowd again added to the atmosphere. Ramon did his best to hang on and having Payton in his back pocket paid off. Diesel would wake up and stalk after Michaels, screaming at him the whole way to the back. In the ring, Razor celebrated with Payton and his son Jarrett, future professional running back. That was really hard hitting and well put together, with good hope spots and a strong finish. Razor needed this win and gets his gold back in the process. Grade: ***1/2
*** Backstage, Todd Pettengil interviews both Lex Luger and Tatanka, who continue to argue about who sold out. Per the fan opinion poll, 54% of voters believe Luger cashed in on DiBiase’s offer. ***
4) Tatanka defeats Lex Luger with a roll up at 6:00
Fun Fact: This feud started when Ted DiBiase appeared on Monday Night Raw and announced that he had signed Lex Luger to be in his new Million Dollar Corporation. Luger’s friend Tatanka went on record and announced he believed DiBiase. Over the next few weeks, Tatanka kept catching Luger in compromising situations, but Luger kept denying it. The two decided to square off here at the PPV to settle their issues. In a one of those classic unintentionally funny moments, Todd Pettingill is manning the WWF Superstar Line on this night and is asking fans if they thought Luger had sold out or not. Well, one astute young fan claimed he thought “Tatanka sold out,” the phone was immediately cut off and the segment ended right away. Nice call screening. This is the second time this happened, as on the call-in portion of the Sunday Night Slam show the week before, a fan said Tatanka sold out.
Scott: Did he or didn’t he? That was the crux of this storyline, whether Lex Luger has turned heel and joined Ted DiBiase’s Corporation. It was such a believable storyline that the WWF Hotline polls all had fans thinking he did indeed switch sides. I was never sure either, but obviously there was a swerve in the works. It just had that feeling to it. Luger was still over as a face and even though I think he was awesome as the Narcissist there really wasn’t any room on the heel side for a main eventer. However as I mentioned earlier there was room for a prominent member of the Corporation. The match is quick with Tatanka being the aggressor and going at the All-American. During the match out came Ted DiBiase with a bag of money, which distracts Luger and allows Tatanka to roll him up for the victory. But that’s not the end of the story. DiBiase walks up to Luger with the bag of money but Luger knocks it out of his hand. Then Tatanka jumps Luger from behind and beats Luger down. It turns out it was indeed Tatanka who sold out and joined the Corporation. It made sense as Tatanka had become a pretty bland babyface. I think the best touch of them all was Tatanka slapping on the Million Dollar Dream as the final insult. That and shoving money in Luger’s mouth. Maybe this was a chance to rebuild Luger’s heat or was he just a foil for Tatanka’s heel turn. Time will tell. The match was nothing but the aftermath is the real story. Grade: **
Justin: After weeks of build, it was finally time for good friends Tatanka and Lex Luger to go to war and settle their differences. Over the summer, Ted DiBiase had begun crowing about how he had signed Lex Luger, getting him to sell out. Tatanka spoke out against his friend, criticizing him and saying he believed DiBiase. Luger denied it and the match was set here. Even though his star power was very obviously dimming, Luger still got his fair share of cheers. Still, it is jarring to think about where he stands on the card this year vs. where he was twelve months earlier. It has been a quick descent down the card. It was kind of weird watching Tatanka go from the quiet, focused warrior to someone that is now so vocal and outspoken. After some feeling out, Luger landed the first solid blow with a shoulderblock that planted the Native American. Lawler was really churning the storyline here, pushing that Luger was a sell out. After getting a near fall on a cross body, Tatanka popped up and cracked Luger with a big chop to the chest, seemingly a warning shot of sorts. Luger came back with a flurry but missed an elbow drop. The crowd is a bit confused here, as called out by Vince, seemingly not knowing who to get behind. Tatanka really took over from there, grabbing a near fall off a tomahawk chop from the top rope. His run would end with a thud as he missed a dive off the top, but as Luger rallied, DiBiase made his presence known. Eschewing a torture rack attempt, Luger marched over and yelled at DiBiase as Ted pulled a handful of cash out of a duffle bag and waved it in front of him. With Lex distracted, Tatanka rolled him up and stole the win. After a brief argument, Tatanka jumped his buddy from behind, revealing that he had been the one to sell out from the start. The jig, it was up. Tatanka put a beating on Luger and then embraced his new manager before pounding Lex some more, hooking the Million Dollar Dream on, stuffing some cash in his former friend’s mouth and eventually walking off a rich man. That post match beatdown was multiple times better than the match, which was short and aimless. While the fit seemed a bit off initially, Tatanka desperately needed to be freshened up. Once his streak ended, his shine dimmed a bit and he was clearly just meandering around the card. This gives him a new attitude and angle to work with. You could also argue the turn may have helped Luger just as much though. Anyway, the turn was pretty obvious to many, even though this 13 year old was pretty caught off guard, and even got tipped accidentally a few times as noted above. Grade: *1/2
5) Jeff Jarrett defeats Mabel after Mabel misses a butt drop at 5:54
Scott: I honestly have no idea why this match was put together. Jarrett is the Tatanka of the heel side going into tonight. A solid in-ring worker with a goofy gimmick that I think takes away from Jarrett’s talent. Why for the love of all that is holy do we have to keep having Mabel in singles matches. I understand that Vince like big dudes, particularly ones that can become heels, but Mabel is pretty much just fat. Oscar has zero talent as a rapper so he brings nothing to the table. There’s really not much more to say here, as the action is dreadful but mercifully short. Jarrett does get the win which is definitely the right move here. Let’s just move on, there’s honestly nothing more to see here. Grade: 1/2*
Justin: With Mo still on the shelf, the singles push for Mabel continues here. He hasn’t been too successful, but they clearly liked him enough to give him PPV slots like this. Jeff Jarrett was really in an interesting spot too as he has potential and it seemed like they wanted to get him track, but he just hadn’t found anything substantial to sink his teeth into yet. He really hasn’t even had any sort of feud yet. This feud was billed as battle of different musical lifestyles, and that is illustrated by their entrances alone. After some theatrics from Jarrett, the match kicked off with Double J using his speed to dodge Mabel’s attack. His hide and seek game quickly ended when Mabel dropped a big elbow on his back. Mabel would clothesline Jarrett to the floor, but as he came back in, he tripped Mabel up, taking him to the mat. With the big guy rattled, Double J kept taking to the air, hammering him with blows off the turnbuckles. However, he tried one time too many as Mabel caught him in a bear hug. Jarrett worked free and was able to leap on Mabel’s back for a sleeper, eventually wearing him down. Jarrett is pretty good at working in some offense against a man so much bigger than him. Mabel came back with a spin kick for a near fall as we saw Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz patrolling the crowd and continuing to march on strike. Thing spilled outside, where Oscar slapped Jarrett and Mabel smashed into him. Back inside, Mabel tried a splash off the middle rope but Jarrett avoided doom. Jarrett would try for a sunset flip, but Mabel blocked it and tried to splash down on him. However, Jarrett outsmarted him and rolled away, causing Mabel to land hard on his ass. Jarrett would cradle him over and steal the win. I actually really dug the psychology here as Jarrett was clearly a step ahead of Mabel the whole time, using his speed advantage to avoid the big blows. Eventually, he found just enough of an opening to steal the much needed win. Grade: *1/2
6) Bret Hart defeats Owen Hart in a cage match to retain WWF World Title when he escapes the cage at 32:05
Fun Fact I: This show marked the return of the British Bulldog, who had spent all of 1993 in WCW.
Fun Fact II: This is the first cage match on PPV since the Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude title match at SummerSlam 1990.
Fun Fact III: Following Owen Hart’s win at King of the Ring, it was announced on the July 16 episode of Superstars that the two Hart brothers would meet again, this time in a steel cage match. The barbs continued between the brothers and boiled over to other Hart family members leading up to the match. During a King’s Court interview, Bruce Hart came to the ring and told Owen that he was a disgrace to the Hart family.
Scott: In what has been the best feud of the post Hogan-era, the battle of brothers has had its ebbs and flows dating all the way back to November at Survivor Series, and through all the PPVs and Raws and syndicated shows both men had their ups and downs. Bret is still WWF Champion and Owen won the King of the Ring, which pretty much pushes him to the top of the card and the expected title shot. After Owen’s upset win over his big brother at WrestleMania, and the fact that this match isn’t last on the card I’m sure there was some doubt as to whether the Hitman would retain the title. Man I was never a fan of the blue barred cage but since we weren’t in the “blood” era of the WWF, the mesh cage probably wasn’t appropriate at the time. That’s fine here because the premise in storyline isn’t to maim the other guy, it’s both to be the champion and to keep the myriad of Hart family members out of the ring. That’s what the psychology of the match is based on. Sure you see maneuvers and faces being thrown into the cage walls, but if you look closely instead of consistent maiming, it’s one move and then off to either the door or climbing the cage wall. Vince and Lawler really brought the energy to the match and everyone was expecting the family to start going bonkers. One sequence has Owen being grabbed by the leg as Bret pulls him away from the cage door. They roll around and Owen punches Bret numerous times, then jumps for the door. Sure, punching is not a Hart workrate staple but that is the impetus of the match: Owen has beaten Bret already, he’s not looking to pin him, just to escape the cage and be the WWF Champion. Bret is trying to keep his beloved title and teach little brother a lesson. No interference in this match makes it even better, and talking about trust: Giving these men over half an hour to work with. That’s unheard of in early 90s WWF. The match is a fantastic lesson in psychology, but the end is almost better. Bret finally makes it over the cage to retain his title, but then Jim Neidhart attacks Davey Boy Smith (his on-camera return after spending 1993 in WCW) then he and Owen lock Bret in the cage with a chain and beat the snot out of the champion while the other family members are scaling the walls of the cage. It was such an awesome NWA-style moment that I was waiting for the Horsemen to come down the aisle. Put this match at the Calgary Saddledome and the roof would have been blown sky high. Owen and Anvil walk off as if they were victorious while the WWF Champion is in a crumpled heap in the ring. This would have been a great ending to this PPV and we’d be fine. However just like King of the Ring, we have one more match to go that probably could have been skipped. Grade: ****1/2
Justin: The family feud continues to rage on here, as Owen Hart finally gets his WWF Title match against his brother Bret, whom he pinned cleanly back at WrestleMania. After Jim Neidhart turned on his former partner to side with his other former partner, Bret was weary of the intentions of other family members. In an attempt to keep Neidhart and anyone else out of the action, the bout was set to take place inside a steel cage. Before the match, we see Neidhart, and a whole slew of Hart family members, including Stu, Hellen, Bruce and the returning Davey Boy Smith in the crowd. We even get some intense promos out of them as well. The British Bulldog was last seen on WWF PPV exactly two years before this show, when he defeated Bret in Wembley Stadium, and that is called out by Lawler, who eggs him on, hoping to swing him against Bret. As the cage continued to be constructed, Bret cut a great, impassioned promo backstage, talking about how the whole family wants this to finally end but Bret vows he will not lose again before stating he hopes it is over afterward. Owen’s entrance was pretty well done as he slowly emerged from the entrance door, taking his time walking to the ring for the biggest match of his life. Of course, the crowd was completely behind Bret and as the steel cage door closed, we were set for our first PPV cage match it exactly four years. Owen wasted no time, going right at Bret and hammering away at him with strong right hands and an uppercut. Bret came back with an atomic drop and clothesline and it already evident that these two would execute their offense at a crisp pace and level just as they did in March. Bret landed a DDT and I really enjoyed the punches that both men were unloading, really cracking them in there. Owen made his first attempt at escaping after landing an enziguri but Bret made the save and took him to the mat with a back suplex. The added sound of the cage rattling added to the match quite a bit just because of how both guys snapped their offense and bumped while selling. The escape attempts would really start to pick up, with each guy taking turns lunging for the door and Owen almost pulling it off. They would trade more attempts with Owen again almost making it out by scaling over the top. After Bret dragged him back in, the two traded heavy blows atop the cage. Owen would knock Bret to the mat and follow with a great missile dropkick before wildly lunging into the cage.
The crowd was really into each escape attempt, popping like crazy for anything Bret did and freaking out when Owen would get close. The war ebbed back and forth, with dives for the door blended with big offensive moves off the cage. Both men were quite worn down but would always find a way to make a save when needed. I love Anvil being the only one popping for Owen and he did it so excitedly. Bret would thwart another really close call by slamming Owen hard to the mat off the cage. In a great moment, we got a split screen that showed Neidhart yelling at Bruce to sit down. Owen would come back a couple minutes later by rattling Bret with a piledriver, perhaps setting him up for his best chance yet, however he couldn’t quite capitalize. That was followed by a wild sequence with both men just about out the door, capped by Bret actually getting his hands on the floor. A moment later, Bret was again super close, but Owen had to make a huge dive and splash to stop his brother from escaping. The trade offs continued and the deeper we got into the match, the more the two would take the fight to the cage walls, alternating big right hands and hard bumps to the mat. And speaking of bumps, the biggest came when Bret took Owen to the mat with a huge superplex off the top of the cage. What a great spot. Owen would stop Bret from crawling out and managed to lock in the Sharpshooter, but Bret broke free and reversed it into his version of the hold. Both men would start to scale the wall and make it to the other side. As they descended, Bret spiked Owen into the cage causing him to get caught and hung up in the bars. With Owen helpless, Bret dropped down to win the match. After the bell, all hell would break loose as Neidhart clotheslined Bulldog and his wife Diana over the railing, chucked Bret back inside, hopped in the cage with Owen and locked the door with a chain. As he and Owen assaulted Bret, the rest of the brothers, including the Bulldog, hurriedly tried to scale the cage for the save. Eventually they made it in and ran Owen and the Anvil off, but the damage was done. That was a wild scene and the crowd ate it all up. It also pretty much sealed that the Bulldog was back with the company.
Much has been made about the strategy in this one, and the biggest criticism is often around how it is a battle of escape attempts over anything else. And I am OK with that because it made sense on both ends. Owen had already beaten Bret and just wanted to take his brother’s gold as quickly as he could. Bret was champion and just wanted to retain his title and end this war, nothing more. Neither were out to maim, so the escape attempts fit the idea behind the match. It also worked because it really felt like two brothers scuffling in the basement. That said, with that style being so dominant in the match, it did feel like it last a bit longer than maybe it should have. They mixed in enough big bumps to keep it exciting but after a while, the same climb and save spots started to get long in the tooth. Regardless, the match was a lot of fun and the crowd was super into it the whole through. Mix in the family drama and all the camera cuts to the Hart clan at ringside and you had a real nice blowoff to a big time feud. Looking at where Owen was a year ago it is amazing to think he was a fairly credible challenger to the World Title here. They did a hell of a job of putting him on the map and giving him enough cred to live off for however long his run with the company would be. Bret’s reign rolls on but based on the war that erupted after the match, it seems our family feud is anything but over. Grade: ****
7) Paul Bearer’s Undertaker defeats Ted DiBiase’s Undertaker with three Tombstones at 9:09
Fun Fact: Following WrestleMania X, rumors began swirling that there had been Undertaker sightings around the country. Every week, the WWF would air little vignettes with locals across America claiming they saw the Undertaker in their town. Taker was spotted at delis, construction sites and supermarkets, but no one could grab hold of him. Soon after this, Ted DiBiase claimed that he had bought the Undertaker’s services, and that he had an in with the Deadman because he has originally brought him into the WWF. DiBiase’s Undertaker began wrestling on WWF shows, and was close enough to the real thing that most rubes in the audience bought into it. For die-hard fans, though, it was obviously not the real Taker, as the new one was noticeably shorter. Paul Bearer then showed up on the scene denying that DiBiase had bought Taker’s services, claiming that he was still in contact with the Deadman. Well, the WWF then hired detective Leslie Nielsen to clear up the mess, and he, of course, accomplished nothing in a series of about five skits leading up to SummerSlam. So, Bearer claimed that his Undertaker would show up at SummerSlam to take out DiBiase’s Undertaker.
Scott: I get the feeling that in theory, in a production room back in say early April, that the bookers thought “What about a storyline where a fake Undertaker comes to steal the real Undertaker’s spot?” Perhaps on paper that sounded really cool. On top of that we have funny skits throughout the summer with Leslie Neilsen performing “Police Squad” type gags trying to find the Undertaker, like looking for Elvis. Eventually Ted DiBiase brings out his Undertaker and on his own, he does look and move like the Deadman. We of course won’t see the actual Deadman until this night in Chicago. Then both guys are in the ring, and all the fun of the storyline goes right out the window. Brian Lee is a decent worker, but because both men have to mirror each other the workrate is dreadfully slow. They have to wrestle with their hair over their face so no one can see what they look like. That also makes life miserable for the camera crew because they have to make sure the angles don’t reveal their faces either. You wanted a reason why Bret and Owen got so much time in their match (besides the fact they’re awesome)? Here it is. This match hits double digits and the Bulls or Blackhawks would have had to exorcise the crap demon in their new building. The boring walkthrough ends with three Tombstones and that’s that. So the Deadman has returned but he’s pretty much in the same spot he was when he left: A babyface with no direction. Damn shame because he’s so over. This was a miserable ending to this PPV and the feud and match are never mentioned again in WWF/E lore. Grade: *
Justin: Well, this has been quite the feud. The Undertaker had been off TV since he ascended into the heavens of the Providence Civic Center back in January. Since then, various everyday folks claimed they had seen the Deadman, but only one man produced him: Ted DiBiase. Yes, DiBiase has been all over the place on the show and on WWF TV in the summer of 1994. However, it was quite clear from the jump that DiBiase’s Taker was a fake. It was a valiant effort but not many were fooled. After some sleuthing from Leslie Nielson, in the final weeks, it was all but proven that the real Undertaker would return with Paul Bearer and that DiBiase was peddling a fake out there. I did like how they dipped into history and called back to how DiBiase had originally introduced Taker to the WWF back in 1990. Other than that, there wasn’t else much to like, other than Taker finally getting back into action after his layoff. You could almost feel the regret from the company as this match got started, regret about going this route, regret about having it close the show, regret all around. The entrance of the real Undertaker was pretty well done, as Paul had some druids wheel out the casket from the Rumble, but inside was just a giant urn. Paul would pop it open and a giant light would shine out, causing lightning to crackle across the arena, finally bringing Taker out of his purgatory and back into the WWF. Sure it was cheesy, but the crowd loved it and it paid off the way he had vanished. In a nice touch, the real Taker now had purple accented instead of the classic gray and also had a new version of his entrance music. If only things had ended there. Once you could see the clear size difference and the robotic, stiff movements of the fake Undertaker, it looked like Taker was battling some dude cosplaying him at a convention. After all of the theatrics, the crowd completely died off as Taker slowly picked apart his doppleganger. Fake Undertaker would get some offense, but it was oscillating between brutally bland and very sloppy. At one point he completely butchers a stun gun attempt, forcing Taker to sell the awkward fall and look like a goof in the process. The two meandered around ringside, with Fake Undertaker landing tepid blows in front of the decaying remains of a once red hot crowd. Taker would finally come back with a chokeslam and three Tombstones to polish off the imposter for good. I really get what they wanted to pull off here, but it was just the wrong call. Undertaker is a big deal, absolutely, but this easily could have gone in the middle of the show as a midpoint main event. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart deserved the main event slot, no doubt about it. And the crowd reacted accordingly. This match was a sloppy mess and the storyline would be completely buried as soon as the show ends. Undertaker is back and the Fake Undertaker is not mentioned on WWF TV for a long, long time. Grade: DUD
Scott: This is a very up and down show, but to me the ups outweigh the downs. Bret and Owen’s rematch in the cage is a masterpiece of psychology, even more than workrate. For some reason as time has gone one I’ve enjoyed Tatanka’s heel turn more. The Corporation needed some legit new blood and become established if they’re going to be a heel force in the company. The Women’s Title match is the best we’ve seen on PPV in years and even the opening tag match is solid enough. The real blotches are the hideous main event and the unwatchable, unnecessary Jarrett/Mabel match. 1994 continues to be pretty solid and Bret Hart continues to establish himself as the face of the WWF, with the mid-card firmly set of stars and a growing tag team division. This is a much more fun show than you may think, just stop watching after Bret/Owen. Grade: B
Justin: Well, this show was pretty damn solid until it died a cold, hard death in the main event. The Chicago crowd came to play and was fantastic right up until the opening bell of the final match. The three title matches were very good and paid off long burning angles. The focus of the company is now squarely on the shoulders of the Hart Family, Undertaker Shawn Michaels, Diesel and Razor Ramon. Others are in the mix, but those are the stars, that is clear. Lex Luger’s stock is in the toilet and he is now embroiled with a freshly minted heel Tatanka. Ted DiBiase is running rampant over the promotion as the new lead heel manager, however things are off to a bit of a rocky start from him. The Leslie Nielson & George Kennedy stuff wove throughout this show and was about as cheesy as it got and added very little value outside of a laugh here and there. There was certainly some filler on the card, but there was also lots to like and even though the star power was lacking, the workrate quality and energy of the new top guys is high level. This show was a great illustration of a company in flux, still a bit unsure how to proceed, but more confident in the map they are crafting. The question is, will they continue to forge ahead or will they take a step back as the growing pains continue. Sadly, it is fitting in some ways that the last WWF personality we see on this show is Randy Savage as we continue to transition out of the Federation Era. Final Grade: B-