*** 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 1995: All Hail King Mabel
August 27, 1995
Pittsburgh Civic Arena (The Igloo)
Announcer: Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler; Dok Hendrix takes over for the last two matches
*** Dean Douglas has a mobile classroom backstage with a monitor and chalkboard. Throughout the night, he will dole out grades to the performers. ***
1) Hakushi defeats 1-2-3 Kid after a modified powerbomb at 9:24
Scott: We open SummerSlam with a singles battle between two expert workers. This was a great booking decision, as the roster was devoid of honest in-ring technicians. So taking two of them and putting them in the opener is a great way to get the show off to a good start. The overall card doesn’t have much to offer in terms of workrate, so you have to take it where you can get it. The Kid’s babyface run is starting to get very stale and the crowd’s not really into him as much as they were earlier in the year. Even leaning on Razor Ramon’s shine is not working like it should. As for Hakushi, besides being Jerry Lawler’s muscle, he has been something of a waste. In an era where the roster was really depleted of star talent, he could have been a great asset pushed to the upper mid-card and maybe be a lower main eventer. Instead he’s wasted in the Lawler feud with Bret Hart where he wrestles one great PPV match and then really does nothing on PPV after that. This match is fun with a lot of back and forth work and the best Kid has looked in a while. Again it seems like a throwaway match but considering what the rest of this show offers, this is really solid. Hakushi wins with a nice reversal, but sadly we won’t see much of the enigma again. Kid meanwhile really needs a makeover. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Just a scant eight years ago, SummerSlam was a godsend, filling a desolate gap in major WWF PPV events. Now, here we are in a world of monthly PPVs and the allure of SummerSlam takes a slight hit. That said, it was still heavily hyped and set up to be a major show. Over the summer, there has continued to been legitimate and deep change throughout the promotion. New faces are popping up left and right, competitors are switching allegiances and the overall style of the promotion is changing as well. We also have a brand new President as beloved announcer Gorilla Monsoon takes over for longtime stalwart Jack Tunney. Tunney had been in the role since the late 80s and had been involved in many major moments and angles. However, the time for change had come and with Tunney’s promotion in Canada tailing off, the company decided to shuffle him out of the role for someone that would be more active. Our opener features two high fliers that have been steady presences in the middle of 1995. Hakushi debuted in late 1994 and has mainly been mixed up in the Bret Hart/Jerry Lawler feud, with him really costing the King some dignity back in June. The Kid has rebounded nicely from his neck issues and is back in the game full time. This easily had the potential to be one of the best openers in company history to date. The White Angel is flying solo here as Shinja was injured and gone from his side at this point. The two would trade holds off the bell, ending in a stand off and a round of applause from the fans. Things continued to simmer with each avoiding the other’s best shots and resetting a couple of more times. Hakushi finally struck first, hitting a tilt-a-whirl slam and then laying in some kicks. He would even pick up some cheers thanks to his impressive offense, including a handspring elbow. Hakushi would target the legs, which was a smart move as he attempted to keep the high flier grounded. He would hit a nice splash out of the corner for a near fall as well before landing a stiff spin kick to the jaw that knocked the Kid to the floor. He then followed onto Kid with a handspring moonsault that cleared the ropes. That was a great spot. Hakushi continued to fly but it caught up to him when he missed a splash off the top rope. Kid would knock the Angel to the floor and follow with a dive. Back inside, he hit a slingshot legdrop and top rope splash for near falls. He would try for a jumping spin kick but Hakushi blocked it and spiked him with a powerbomb to win the match. That was a really fun opener, way ahead of 90% of what WWE was doling out at this point. Kid continues to absorb losses, but Hakushi needed this win much more. Definitely lived up to its promise of being one of the best openers in company history to this point. Grade: ***1/2
2) Hunter Hearst-Helmsley defeats Bob Holly with the Pedigree at 7:08
Fun Fact: Paul Levesque is from New Hampshire, and began training in Massachusetts in Killer Kowalski’s training school. He made his debut in the IWF in 1992, winning that heavyweight title. He moved on to WCW as lower mid-carder Terra Ryzin, and then changed his name to Jean-Paul Levesque and took on a more snobby blueblood attitude. He toiled with Lord Steven Regal for a while, losing to Alex Wright at Starrcade 1994. He left WCW and was picked up by the WWF in early-1995. He kept his snobby blueblood attitude but his name was changed to something that flowed off the tongue a little better: Hunter Hearst-Helmsley. A vignette aired on the May 1 Raw announcing his debut. His first TV match was on the April 30 Wrestling Challenge when he defeated Buck Zumhoff with a jaw breaker-type move that ironically would become the Stone Cold Stunner. His RAW debut was on May 22 when he defeated John Crystal with what would become his signature move: the Pedigree. His first PPV appearance was at last month’s In Your House as one of the lumberjacks in the Diesel/Sid title match.
Scott: We have a debut here that, little did anyone realize, would be an integral part of the WWF landscape to this day. The Greenwich Blueblood makes his PPV debut against the race car driver with the huge mullet. As 1995 continues, we slowly start to see the roster grow and create some new stars to freshen up what’s become incredibly stale. Helmsley was at IYH #2 as one of the lumberjacks but otherwise has been cutting his teeth on Raw in jobber matches. This is his first TV/PPV match against real competition and it’s a relatively solid affair. There’s decent back and forth action, as both men have pretty simple offenses. As Helmsley’s run continues his offense grows and becomes more creative but for now it’s typical mid-card heel stuff. You can tell Helmsley has the charisma to be something, although many probably didn’t know it at the time. Holly was the poster boy for corny stupid WWF gimmicks in the mid-90s and it was great for him to lay down to the guy with the bigger upside. Grade: **
Justin: This very interesting lineup of matches rolls along with the debut of a brand new heel. Hunter Hearst-Helmsley formerly competed in WCW and was imported earlier in the year, working a very similar blueblood gimmick. He did come in with a bit of hype as a potential high level player that needed some polish and overall enhancement. You can tell he already has some presence and general ring awareness right away here though. His opponent is the ever-present Bob Holly, who is looking to end the snob’s tidy undefeated streak. It has been a good year for Holly overall as he has popped up on PPV multiple times now and is looked at as more than just low mid card fodder. Him getting a slot at SummerSlam is neat to see too and it is good that the company is starting to use the little depth it has to set up solid matches, workrate wise. Helmsley worked over Holly early on, landing some chops, but Holly slugged his way back into things. That ended quickly, though, when Helmsley caught him on a charge and dropped him across the top rope with a stun gun. Helmsley is showing good aggression as well, pouring on the strikes and not waiting for the match to come to him. Holly’s selling has been on point in 1995 as well, and he is doing a nice job putting over the newcomer’s attack, including a vicious Irish whip into the corner. Helmsley rocked Holly with a backbreaker and followed with a knee to the head before he honed in on the back some more. It was a focused assault that included an abdominal stretch and a hiptoss to the floor. Holly would slide back in and snap off a nice DDT and the avoid a tilt-a-whirl before pasting Helmsley with a dropkick to the face. These guys are really snapping their moves, leading to some good bumps and crowd pops. Holly kept pouring it on, rattling the blueblood with a series of strikes that was capped with another dropkick. However, he made one fatal mistake when he went for a back body drop that Helmsley blocked. A second later, Helmsley smashed Holly with the Pedigree to pick up the hard fought win. That was a really solid match with both guys working hard and smart. Nice showing for Helmsley in his first WWF PPV bout and great job by Holly holding up his end of the bargain and putting the new guy over strong. Grade: **1/2
3) The Smokin’ Gunns defeat The Blu Brothers when Billy Gunn pins Jacob Blu after a sidewinder slam at 6:09
Scott: The tag team division in 1995 continues to be pretty awful, as the Gunns are really the lone stars on the babyface side, with the champions the top heel team. Otherwise it’s the same corny gimmicks we talked about in the previous match. Just like the mid-card part of the roster the tag division was in need of serious help and they would slowly get some help in the fall and into 1996. The Blu Brothers could have been a great heel team, but at WrestleMania were dispatched by a babyface team of singles guys that went nowhere (Allied Powers). They also were likely jobbed out on Raw and syndicated TV shows, so really nobody cared about them. This match has no sizzle to it at all, as it feels like a TV match. The Gunns have (even at the top of the face food chain) felt stale and bland. The crowd was really into them but their matches were so dull and average. The Gunns get the win which they deserved but otherwise this brought nothing to the table, as the tag division continues to plug along at a listless pace. Grade: *
Justin: As I mentioned earlier, this was a weird little card with some matches that had no real feud featuring competitors that weren’t often on PPV. Even weirder is that the tag team champions are left off the show with this being our only tag bout of the evening. The Blu Twins are still mulling around, filling the void as the muscle men heel team while the Gunns are trying to work their way back into title contention. Jacob and Billy started things off and the mountain man used his power advantage to control the match right away. The Blus would tag in and out but Billy made a quick comeback on Jacob, hitting a Rocker Dropper before tagging Bart in. Bart was looking good until Eli struck from the floor and snapped his neck across the top rope. Bart shrugged it off and he and Billy double teamed Eli into a near fall. However, with the referee tied up with Bart, both Blus teamed up and slammed Billy with a double powerbomb for a near fall. There has been good pacing throughout all of these matches tonight. The Blus continued to double team, baiting in Bart and working behind the ref’s back. Billy would eat a slam and almost loss on a very close two count that even McMahon called out as a potential blown call. Billy took advantage and spiked Eli to the mat, allowing him to make the hot tag. Bart came in and cleaned house and after a Blu Brother collision, the Gunns hit the sidewinder for the win. That was another really nice match with great effort and never slowing down. Tack on another few minutes to the heat segment and this could easily nudged up, but as is it was a well worked short tag battle. Grade: **
4) Barry Horowitz defeats Skip with a Small Package at 11:17
Fun Fact: Both competitors in this match are making their PPV debuts. Barry Horowitz is the true example of a wrestling journeyman. He started here in the WWWF in the late 1970s. From there he went to Mid-Atlantic, then to Florida where he was managed by Percy Pringle, a/k/a Paul Bearer, and then on to Memphis as “Stretcher” Jack Hart, then back to the WWF in 1988 as one of the more well-known jobbers on TV. From there he headed to Texas with the Von Erichs and then moved along to the fledgling Global Wrestling Federation. After that he had a brief stint in WCW teaming with Moondog Spot. Finally he returned to the WWF in late-1993 as one of the masked Knights on Shawn Michaels’ team at Survivor Series, so technically this is his second PPV match, but first as himself.
Fun Fact II: Horowitz’ opponent is also a journeyman of sorts. Chris Candido and his girlfriend, Tammy Sytch, started in IWCCW with a faction called “Heart Throb 4” with Tom Brandi, Flex Lavender and Darren Wyse. From there he’d head to WWA and then to Smoky Mountain Wrestling in 1993. He’d do well there, winning the US and Television titles there before both headed to the WWF in 1995. Skip’s first match was on the 5/5/95 Raw, defeating Horowitz. Sytch started her career with Candido in Smoky Mountain where she became a very effective heel manager. They enter the WWF as stuck up fitness gurus who would spend most of their time making fun everyone else for being out of shape.
Fun Fact III: This match came about after Horowitz had upset Skip twice in the weeks leading up to the show. The first time was on Action Zone when Skip was doing pushups and Horowitz rolled him up by surprise getting first career win. The match is very memorable for Jim Ross’ call: “Horowitz wins! Horowitz wins! Horowitz wins!” A couple weeks later, Skip challenged Horowitz to go ten minutes with him on Superstars. Of course, the Jewish Phenom went the full ten and beat Skip again. The next week, Horowitz was facing Hakushi and Skip came out to get a look at the action. In the chaos, Skip accidentally cost Hakushi the match and Horowitz was now 3-0 in his last three TV matches. Hakushi was pissed, which explains why he interferes here. Horowitz got a nice little run, and would remain in the mid-card into the next year.
Scott: One of the more unusual matches on this card is also one of the most entertaining. Horowitz is one of the WWF’s most memorable jobbers, going all the way back to 1989 during the Federation Era. He bounced around on and off camera but returned in 1995 but this time he wins his first TV match “ever”, kayfabe anyway. The guy he defeated is a career indies guy with a very unforgettable valet. Tammy Sytch was always in the Apter Mags as one of the hottest women in wrestling and now had her chance in the big time. Totally amped down as fitness junkie Sunny, she brings with her real life boyfriend Chris Candido, with the name Skip. Skip? Once again Vince had to keep his Federation Era attitude and change the character to some goofy fitness geek. Regardless of the weird storyline and characters, the build to this led to a fun match here with great storytelling. Considering Skip couldn’t beat Horowitz twice on free TV, it almost seemed like a foregone conclusion that Skip was going to win here and start to build some “new heel” momentum. Sure it would be a straight up match that would go for a decent length but in the end Skip would finally put the underdog away and move on. But alas, every time he tries Horowitz kicks out! Then Skip seemingly had the win in his pocket, but he pulled Horowitz off the mat. You knew something was up, and sure enough Horowitz steals the win with another small package. That was a better match that it probably had any business being, but it was anyway. Grade: ***
Justin: Well, this match really came out of nowhere. Career WWF jobber Barry Horowitz steps into the spotlight for an unlikely feud against newcomer Skip, the Body Donna. Skip is Smokey Mountain mainstay Chris Candido and he is accompanied by his gorgeous manager Sunny, who in real life was his girlfriend Tammy Sytch. Tammy had a great reputation for her wrestling mind and intelligence and was seen as a nice pickup by the Federation. Skip’s run got off to a fairly quiet start until he was shocked by Horowitz in a match on Action Zone. It was a great moment with Jim Ross going bananas. Horowitz got hot and the crowd got behind him and before you knew it, this was a PPV match. I fully expected Skip to win this heading in, to put the Horowitz stuff to bed and reestablish himself, because he seemed like someone that may get a stronger push. I certainly was expecting Horowitz’s run of relevance to continue. Barry would start fast, jumping Skip off the bell and flying around the ring as he rattled the fitness guru with every move in his arsenal. Skip took control after regrouping on the floor, but Barry came right back and grabbed a near fall. I love that ever near fall by Barry felt like life or death as Skip couldn’t take another loss to this guy a third time. In a great spot, Barry suplexed Skip over the top and too the floor. Sunny would hop in the ring and try to get the match stopped, but that was futile. She was super active at ringside, which was cool to see. She would also help her man turn the tide as she tripped Barry up when he hit the ropes. Vince kept pushing Skip as the favorite here, and now that he had control, most probably would have agreed. Skip started to work the neck and pick up momentum as the fans tried to rally Horowitz. Of course, Skip learned nothing from his past transgressions and continued to showboat a bit as he worked Barry over. That is what cost him the first time. Barry had a few comeback attempts but couldn’t get over the hump. After a near fall from a powerslam, Skip played to the crowd with some jumping jacks and you could see disaster nearing. Barry worked in some strikes, mixing in right hands and headbutts and a moment later, both tried to dropkick each other, in essence resetting the match. Skip fended off Barry when they got up and hit a splash off the top but picked Horowitz up during the cover, for some stupid reason. Barry would block a piledriver and head up top, but Sunny tripped him up. That allowed Skip to snap him off with a superplex but before he covered, Hakushi powerwalked to the ring. The Angel was at odds with Skip after he cost him a match with Horowitz earlier in the weekend. He would springboard off the top rope and jump over Skip, disorienting him enough to give Horowitz the opening to lock in an inside cradle for the win. Horowitz wins! Skip…loses! Another upset in the books and the crowd was loving it as they popped big for Barry. That was a pretty cool moment and a really fun match with good teases and psychology. Skip is in a tough position as he tries to recover but the WWF may have actually found a new underdog star in Horowitz. Grade: ***
5) Bertha Faye defeats Alundra Blayze to win WWF Women’s Title with a powerbomb at 4:38
Fun Fact: Bertha Faye debuted on the 4/3/95 when she attacked Alundra Blayze right after Alundra has regained the title from Bull Nakano. The beating broke Blayze’s nose and she was forced to the sideline to have reconstructive surgery. After losing the belt here, Blayze would regain the title from Faye on October 23rd, and then, in the first holy shit moment of the Monday Night Wars, walked onto Nitro in December of 1995 and tossed the WWF Women’s Title into the trash. Eric Bischoff eventually said that she was very reluctant to do it, and that she probably regretted it. The title would remain vacant until September of 1998. After an appearance at Survivor Series, Faye would disappear shortly after, and would show up in WCW in 1999, under the Russo regime. She would stick around there for a bit and then kind of disappeared until her untimely death on July 27, 2001.
Fun Fact II: Rhonda Sing was born on February 21, 1961 and grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She aspired to be a pro wrestler from a very early age and as a teenager approached the Hart family to train. However she was turned away because the Harts did not train women at that time. She later joined Mildred Burke’s school in California and was trained there. After only a few weeks of training she was sought out by All Japan Women and signed with them where she wrestled under the name Monster Ripper. While in Japan she won the AJW title and the WWWA World Heavyweight Championship twice. After her time in Japan she travelled back to Calgary where she joined Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling and became their first Women’s champion. During the late 80s into the early 90s she wrestled around the world, including in Puerto Rico where she was part of the World Wrestling Council, holding their women’s championship on five different occasions.
Scott: Our first title match of the evening to me looked like a mismatch from the start. Blayze was at the top of her game and Bertha Faye looked like a total joke of a character and this was simply a title defense for maybe more matches with Bull Nakano, which would be pretty cool. The match is awful, and Blayze is forced to go at half speed because Bertha moves like a ’68 Cadillac. Then out of nowhere the match ends and Bertha Faye is your new Women’s Champion. I am completely stunned at this. She seemed like a complete joke, yet now she is the champion. I’m not sure if Blayze was in the doghouse or if they wanted a title change since perhaps we wouldn’t see any others on this night. It was an awful match and a bizarre outcome, but we do have a new Women’s Champion. Grade: *
Justin: For the second straight SummerSlam, Alundra Blayze is defending her title against stiff competition. Bertha Faye had debuted back in April and busted up Blayze’s nose with a sneak attack. Faye is accompanied by her main squeeze, Harvey Wippleman and was quite the unique package overall. Of course, she had a great rep in Japan and was a solid pickup for the WWF, but the women’s division is still sagging overall. Blayze was at a significant size disadvantage and she used her speed early, avoiding Bertha and landing a kick to the back of the head. She kept laying in the kicks until Bertha pancaked her with big body blocks. Bertha worked her over but missed a splash out of the corner. Alundra would come back with a victory roll for a near fall, followed by a series of knees that seemed to work until Bertha just tripped her up and spiked her down. Harvey ran some interference, but Blayze still picked up a near fall on a crucifix. Bertha pancaked her but Alundra hit a hurricanrana for a near fall. She followed up with two dropkicks off the middle rope but missed a third. Bertha scooped her up and hit a powerslam for the win and the title. Well that was quite the little sprint. Bertha and Harvey’s celebration was pretty funny too. Blayze gave it a go but Bertha’s size edges it out in the end. It is too bad there was no depth in this division, because these two could work and if they had more talent to mix in, the division could have finally meant something. As is, we have a new champ and Alundra is back on the hunt. Grade: **
6) Undertaker defeats Kama in a casket match when Kama is pushed in the casket at 16:54
Fun Fact: These two had this match numerous times on the house show circuit over the summer, and it was a Coliseum Video Exclusive at In Your House #2 in July. Undertaker is seeking revenge after Kama stole his urn at WrestleMania and made good on his threat of melting it into a chain. For the past month or so, there would be gothic looking fans in the crowd during Kama’s matches, and a black wreath would be delivered ringside when ever he wrestled. The week before this show, Kama attacked one of Undertaker’s Creature of the Night fans. As a result of that beating, Gorilla Monsoon added the casket match stipulation to this bout.
Scott: You could consider this one of the main event matches of the card, and for Undertaker it’s certainly an upgrade from what we saw from him a year ago at SummerSlam. The only similarity is that it’s STILL the Million Dollar Corporation and the damn urn. It’s been a complete mess of a year for the Deadman, since he’s either wrestled a talentless hack on PPV or he’s not even been on PPV and wrestles the infamous “Coliseum Video Exclusives”, which is the leftover matches from the IYH PPVs so the crowd doesn’t feel ripped off that they spent their money on only two hours of wrestling. So the TV audience doesn’t get to see one of the most popular guys in the entire company. The last vestige of the group is the Supreme Fighting Machine, who melted the urn down into a chain after stealing it (again) at WrestleMania. In fact they’ve wrestled this exact match (gimmick and all) off camera at these IYH shows. However with limited internet coverage in 1995, not many really knew they existed until the VHS tape of the show came out. Does that make the match better? Well going in you knew there would be a myriad of power moves and lots of strikes. So if there’s enough selling and storytelling then perhaps they can pull off something decent. For once Ted DiBiase on the outside is adding some drama by giving Taker some cheap shots here and there and even drawing the ire of Paul Bearer, who throws his jacket off and goes after DiBiase but is held back by the referees. The match otherwise is as good as it will get from two guys with lots of slow, power-based offense. Taker finally drops the Tombstone and slowly pushes Kama into the casket and then slams the lid shut. The crowd goes crazy but Taker continues to deal with insipid storylines and slow, plodding matches. At least he’s winning them. Grade: **1/2
Justin: This feud has been rolling on since WrestleMania, when Kama stole Undertaker’s urn and melted it down into a chain. At King of the Ring, Kama cost Undertaker his opening round match. After that, Kama attacked an Undertaker fan, so Gorilla Monsoon made this a casket match, the first on PPV since Survivor Series. Of course, Taker’s feud with Ted DiBiase has actually been going on for a full year now, as it was a year ago that he returned and ran off his doppleganger. This is a good spot for Kama and a strong showing here could set him up for a nice fall. An angry Taker hammered away at Kama as the bell rang, looking to finish the Supreme Fighting Machine off quickly. The crowd buzzed as Taker planted him with a tree slam but then chucked him over the top rope and onto the casket. A freaked out Kama continued to be kept off balance, and it looked like it may be a quick outing as Taker pelted him with his top rope axe handle and dumped Kama into the casket twice. Kama finally broke the momentum by yanking Taker’s neck across the top rope and drilling him with a flying clothesline off the top. The crowd really rallied behind Taker as the two slugged it out inside the casket. As Kama pounded Taker in the corner, Vince noted how he seemed to show no respect or fear for the Deadman. That certainly is one way to beat him. With Taker on the floor, DiBiase sauntered over and laid in a shot while holding the chain. In a cool moment, Paul Bearer tossed his jacket off and stormed after DiBiase like a mad man but officials pulled him back. The crowd loved that. The brawl continued on the floor, with Kama surviving a comeback and running Taker into the post spine first. He followed with a stiff suplex on top of the casket, splitting the wooden lid. Taker made another brief comeback and the crowd was really fired up, but Kama mowed him down and went for a cover before realizing that was a dead end. After keeping a strong pace, Kama slowed things down with a chinlock, but it didn’t kill the crowd as they kept rooting on the Deadman. Kama’s attack has been decent here, focusing on the neck and back and clearly just trying to do whatever he could to get Taker worn down enough to put him in the casket. Taker recovered and clotheslined Kama over the top but his momentum carried him forward and both men tumbled into the casket, which was now a broken mess.
After they both escaped, Kama hit a swinging neckbreaker out of desperation but both men were pretty out of gas. Taker sat up, nailed Kama with a chokeslam and then buried him with a tombstone to a monster pop. He would roll him the casket, slam it shut and that was that. That was surprisingly fun and well executed and the hot crowd really added to it as well. Both men worked hard and had solid chemistry and a decent storyline backing them up. Vince and King were feeling it too, feeding off the crowd and really getting into it as it went along. For as rough as this whole Taker/DiBiase saga has been over the past year, this was definitely one of the higher peaks amongst a valley of very low lows. Hopefully Taker can finally now move on past this. Grade: **1/2
7) Bret Hart defeats Isaac Yankem by disqualification at 16:05
Fun Fact: Jerry Lawler was so distraught over having, not only Bret Hart’s, but his own foot jammed in his mouth at King of the Ring, that he had to see his dentist to get the taste out. Of course, his dentist happened to be evil and never used any novocain, so Lawler decided to use this huge monster to dispatch of his hated rival.
Fun Fact II: Glenn Jacobs started his career in Memphis in 1993 as Doomsday, and eventually moved on to become the Unibomber in Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He and Al Snow actually defeated the legendary Rock ‘n’ Roll Express to win the SMW Tag Team Titles. They lost the titles and a “Loser Leaves SMW” match to Tracy Smothers and Dirty White Boy, which led one to ECW, and the other to the big time to become an evil dentist.
Scott: We thought that this two year old feud was finally coming to an end with that silly match at King of the Ring. Bret is in the same place as Taker is; A long boring feud that needed to end, against opponents that were stunting growth. Unlike Taker, Bret was the top workers in the company and could have had matches with tremendous guys. The problem is there weren’t many tremendous guys with which to feud with. In any event another feud could have started but instead Lawler gets his…DENTIST? Glenn Jacobs could have come in as the Unibomber (his character in Memphis) and the WWF could have made something interesting with it. But an evil DENTIST? I can’t fathom who of the bookers thought an evil dentist was anything that was a good idea. Fortunately Bret is still maybe the most popular (next to Taker) in the company and facing anybody would make the crowd go crazy. The problem is he’s facing an inexperienced big man and that always leads to sub-standard matches. This match is just like that. With Lawler’s bias commentary and Yankem’s plodding offense the match is a colossal mess. Loads of Lawler interference leads to a disqualification, which means we will get more matches from this feud. Why must it continue? Well in hindsight this is what apparently the Kliq was doing backstage: Their guys were getting all the great matches and opponents (each other) while everybody else gets slim pickings. This match should have just been a one off match and Bret just MOVES ON. Instead more bad quality lingers and both Taker and Bret are stuck in a forgotten mid-card with slugs all around them. Something had to change in the WWF, as this transition from the Federation Era to…whatever this is. If this is the New Generation, well then we are in for a world of hurt. Grade: *1/2
Justin: After the nasty ending to their King of the Ring match, Jerry Lawler’s anger continued to simmer. Claiming damage to his mouth and unfixable breath issues from the fallout, Lawler sought the help of his dentist Isaac Yankem. Yes, Yankem. The good doctor also happened to moonlight as a pro wrestler, so the King brought him on board to take out the Hitman. He certainly looked the part of a psychotic madman, nasty teeth and all. I mean, it’s not the worst gimmick idea in the world but the name (and hometown of Decatur, IL) made it much goofier than it needed to be for sure. Also, his theme music was just drilling noises over muzak which was really annoying. Hart is just chugging along, mowing through mid card feud after mid car feud, all of which have been tangentially related to Lawler. And it was fine through King of the Ring, but it probably should have ended there. Although, I guess this is a way to really push Yankem out of the gate if they saw big things in him. Yankem used his power early but Bret slugged him right back. I do enjoy Isaac’s scrubs, that is nice attention to detail. Yankem missed an elbow drop but he didn’t back down and again used clubbing blows to wear down the Hitman. Lawler was all fired up here, ripping the Hart family and putting over his man. Hart avoided a charge and finally got an extended stream of offense, capped by clotheslining Isaac to the floor and following after him with a tope. Back inside, Bret started to prep for the Sharpshooter, attacking the legs and lower mid section and picking up a couple of near falls along the way. Yankem was able to sidestep Hart and drop him across the top rope with a hot shot that ended with Hart’s hand tangled in the ropes. A moment later, Yankem slung Bret across the ring viciously into the corner. Yankem went to work on the chest and throat from there, turning Bret into a cool reverse hanging neckbreaker, but Bret rolled through and grabbed a near fall with an inside cradle. Yankem was up first and went back to work on the neck, this time working the mouth a bit as well, which is a cool touch. He followed by knocking Bret to the floor and then ramming him hard into the ring post as Lawler taunted him from the announce table.
Early on, Yankem looked hesitant and a bit shaky but he has really settled in now and is moving with more ease and delivering his offense with better execution. With Bret slung over the top rope on his way back inside, Yankem climbed to the top rope and came flying off with a decent legdrop to the back of the Hitman. He kept the pressure on, delivering a strong clothesline to the back of the neck and grabbing a near fall as the crowd started to rally Hart. They would end up on the floor, where Yankem ate the steps, giving Bret momentum back in the ring. After running through his moves, Hart hooked the Sharpshooter, but Lawler scampered over and pulled Yankem’s hand to the ropes, forcing a break. Again, the match ended up on the floor and this time it was Hart that was rammed into the stairs. Lawler stayed active at ringside as Yankem went back up top, but this time Hart caught him and slammed him to the mat. Bret kept on the attack, dragging Yankem to the corner and then tieing his legs together with a cable around the ring post. Hart laid in a series of kicks as the crowd was going nuts. The referee would free Isaac, but while that was going on, Hart jumped the King on the floor and slugged him to a big pop. While he was doing that, Yankem came off the top rope and clobbered Hart from behind. That was a cool spot and the crowd was amped. Lawler kept interfering and eventually he and Yankem hung Bret in between the top and middle rope and clubbed away at him while trying to also add pressure and cut off his air supply. That was finally enough for the referee, who called for the DQ. The officials finally freed Bret and ran off Yankem and Lawler. That was much better than I expected it to be. Bret was great in leading Yankem through the match and Isaac held up his end of the bargain just fine, not really losing his composure at all and hitting some unique moves. Hart’s selling was fantastic as always and the crowd was super into him. I also really liked all the Lawler stuff at the end. Once he started getting involved, the heat really picked up and things degenerated into madness. I am even fine with the DQ as you don’t want to beat Yankem out of the gate. Also, Lawler getting involved makes sense because deep down he probably doubts this big, green rookie can take out the Hitman on his own. Even though Hart is stuck in this endless feud, he is working hard and keeping his fans engaged and bought in. Grade: ***
8) Shawn Michaels defeats Razor Ramon in a ladder match to retain WWF Intercontinental Title when Michaels grabs the title at 25:00
Fun Fact: From the 1950s through the early 80s, Jack Tunney worked for the wrestling promotion that his father had helped establish in Ontario, Maple Leaf Wrestling. When his father passed away in 1983, Jack took over the reigns of MLW and aligned himself with the WWF. A year later, he would transfer controlling interest to the WWF. Tunney was made the chief WWF promoter for Canadian tours and continued to control the bookings for Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. In the summer of 1984, Tunney was given the figurehead position of President of the WWF. This was done in part to give those in the new WWF Canadian market someone they were familiar with. While the position was largely ceremonial, he was brought in when major decisions were to be announced. Tunney served in this role until June 15, 1995. At that time, McMahon made the decision to begin running Toronto shows without the assistance of Tunney. He was forced out of the WWF and would retire from wrestling.
Following this change, Gorilla Monsoon was named the new President of the WWF. His first act as President was to announce the ladder rematch between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels for SummerSlam.
Fun Fact II: This match was originally supposed be Shawn Michaels vs. Sid, so Shawn could finally get revenge from the attack in May. However, as his first decision as WWF President (Jack Tunney had resigned in July, and Gorilla was named “Interim” President), Gorilla Monsoon decided that the “fans wanted the ladder rematch” and that Sid would get his title shot against the winner on a future Raw. Sid would face Shawn a few weeks later, which is also memorable, as it is the night Eric Bischoff gave away the full results to the taped Raw on his live Nitro.
Scott: Apparently this was added late in the booking process because everyone thought this show on paper was a complete pile of crap. Well.they were correct. Overall this card was pretty dreadful even back then, so a match that could have real sizzle to it. So the bookers manufactured a rematch from one of the greatest matches of all time to guarantee a real gem that can be remembered. The dynamic of the match is different: At WrestleMania X Shawn Michaels was a smarmy heel and Razor Ramon was the crazy over babyface. One and a half years later and both men are over with the fans. Perhaps this was leading to a Razor heel turn, which could lead to future opportunites on the card for him. Instead pretty much every base member of the Kliq is a babyface. In fact most of the big stars right now are all babyfaces, leading to a dearth of heels (See: main event), and the reason why we have two babyfaces here. As for the ladder match itself, you know that if both guys go balls to the wall we can get at least three stars. But with the character dynamic different, then perhaps the psychology would change. The ladder is used a little less and both guys went out and actually wrestled more than they did at MSG. There the ladder came into play and was almost exclusively a lynchpin for the match. There were a couple of homages to the first match. Shawn Michaels went for the splash off the top of the ladder like he did before, except this time Razor ducked out of the way and Shawn crashed and burned. Razor was backdropped to the floor on a failed Razor’s Edge. The last five minutes is pure magic as both guys go outside the playbook with the ladder, and come up with some ugly failures off the ladder. Then at the end of the match, we see something we will see much more of in the future. Shawn looks to be set up to win the match. Razor is outside the ring and Shawn is on top of the ladder. But the ladder he’s on is warped and falls, as does Michaels. Well Shawn looks like he throws a bit of a tantrum and kicks the other ladder out of the way. He defiantly climbs up the ladder and grabs the title belt. Afterwards we get the Hogan/Warrior routine of two babyfaces congratulating each other on a job well done. The match was sparkling, and it looks even better compared to what’s around it, which makes this one seem like a better match than the first ladder match. I think they are very close to equal, but this one is not quite as historic as the first one was. Michaels retains his title, but what is the future of the Bad Guy? Grade: ****
Justin: With interim President Gorilla Monsoon looking to make a splash and win over the fans, he decided to mix things up and pulled Sid out of the SummerSlam Intercontinental Title match just weeks before the show. Instead, he granted us all a rematch from WrestleMania X, giving Razor Ramon a crack at his beloved gold, which would hang high above the ring. And with that announcement, the interest for this show shot through the roof. In fact, you could argue this was the true main event of the night. Some questioned if they could repeat the magic, but others noted that both were even more seasoned workers, which could lead to great things. Another difference this time around was that both were now faces, which would assuredly lead to a different dynamic as well. With the King having scampered off with Yankem, Dok Hendrix hops in the booth, which was a nice bonus. As the two traded fists and then took to the ropes, you had to marvel at the speed of Shawn Michaels. He was in such great shape at this point, he just buzzed around the ring. Razor would make the first move for the ladder but Shawn jumped him and dragged him back to the ring. That backfired on the champ, who got taken back to the floor with a vicious suplex off the apron. That was a nasty bump to take this early on. Razor went to work on the back, but Shawn was able to avoid a Razor’s Edge, leading to a double clothesline. Razor was up first and landed another big blow with a fallaway slam off the middle rope. I love that they threw these bombs early, setting the stage for a really brutal match. Razor dragged the ladder inside, but that gave Shawn a chance to recover and he ended up wresting the ladder away and smacking the challenger with it. He would ascend the ladder but Ramon yanked him off, causing Shawn’s leg to get twisted in the rungs in gnarly fashion. Razor went right back to work, mashing Shawn’s leg with the ladder in a few different ways. I loved Razor’s aggression and anger here, not holding back from wrecking the leg and not ashamed to use the ladder, which was wedged between the turnbuckles, for brutality.
Shawn tried to comeback but his knee was too banged up and Razor hoisted him up and spiked him onto the ladder with a shinbreaker. Ramon even followed up with a nice Indian Death Lock, snapping Shawn’s leg back hard to the mat. Shawn landed a few shots to slow the Bad Guy up, but again his knee hindering him from taking advantage. He did muster up enough energy to take Razor off the ladder with a back suplex, giving him the chance to hobble over and prop the ladder up in the corner, which he then slung Ramon into. He followed that with a moonsault off the ladder and the crowd was getting fired up but things turned again when he missed a big splash off the top of the steel. The two would slowly recover and climb towards the gold, leading to a slugfest at the very top and ending with both toppling off into the ropes and eventually out to the floor. Both made it back inside and Shawn tried to scale the ladder again, but Ramon caught him and brought him down with a stiff Razor’s Edge. Ramon had dragged a second ladder in the ring and both men climbed up their respective steps, lunging for the gold. In a great spot, Michaels drilled Razor with a superkick, knocking him to the mat. Shawn would try to reach for the gold, but his ladder was too far away and he took a nasty spill to the mat. Razor popped up and tried for another Edge but Shawn dumped him to the floor, climbed the ladder and after missing again, he scaled up angrily and grabbed his gold to retain. What a fantastic match. They really beat the piss out of each other and upped the ante from MSG. Both took nasty bumps throughout and the crowd ate it all up. It was also good to see Michaels get the win back and fully establish his title reign, beating the last dominant champ. This was easily just as good as their Mania bout. Grade: *****
*** Razor Ramon attacks Dean Douglas, who gave Ramon a bad grade following his loss. ***
9) Diesel defeats King Mabel to retain WWF World Title with a flying shoulderblock at 9:14
Fun Fact I: In the week before this show, British Bulldog turned on Diesel during a tag team match with MOM. In the following days, rumors were swirling that Lex Luger would also be turning heel to join his partner in assaulting Diesel. The question here is whether or not Luger would attack Diesel. When Luger runs out during the match, Diesel attacks him because he assumes he is out to get him. Luger eventually helps Diesel ward off the heels. Rumor has it that he was set to have a big feud with the Bulldog, But, before we could find out, he decided to jump to WCW instead, and ended up firing the first shot of the Monday Night Wars. Luger had been wrestling without a contract and his buddy Sting had been trying to convince Eric Bischoff to sign him away. Bischoff was hesitant but eventually caved. Luger wrestled on a house show in St. John’s, New Brunswick, Canada on Sunday September 3, where he teamed up with Shawn Michaels to defeated Owen Hart and Yokozuna. That would be last time he ever stepped foot in a WWF ring as, without any notice, he jumped to WCW and appeared on the debut episode of Monday Nitro the next night.
Scott: So, what could we possibly expect out of this? I mean seriously, Diesel struggled with a big guy who could moderately move around and have some semblance of a move set. I’m talking about Sid, who was also over as a heel with the crowd. Plus, Diesel is facing guys the same size as him. Now I know it worked during the Hogan years, but Mabel and Andre the Giant shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence. Diesel just looks so awful when having to sell for bigger guys. Plus, NO ONE CARES ABOUT MABEL. I don’t want to keep harping on the King of the Ring debacle but simply winning that doesn’t bring you instant heel credibility. When Owen Hart (once again the tag champions NOT ON THIS SHOW) won the tournament last year he was catapulted to the main event of SummerSlam. However he was facing his brother Bret and it was in a cage and people actually gave a damn about the feud. The crowd here is cooked for the most part except for the occasional DIESEL chants from the usually vocal Pittsburgh crowd. The back and forth between both men is truly awful. Diesel is holding back his forearm shots and they look abysmal. Mabel’s offense is pretty much nothing but punches and shots to the back. Vince and Dok Hendrix (replacing Lawler after that other mess) are doing their best but the crowd has really tanked. Even when the cooked Lex Luger runs in nobody truly cares. He takes care of Mo but deep down we know where Luger’s future endeavors lie. The only real drama of the match was the slow Earl Hebner count after Mabel’s Belly-to-BIG BELLY suplex that perhaps the unthinkable would happen. Thankfully it doesn’t and (since Diesel can’t Jackknife a 500 pound guy) after a dreadful clothesline and a VERY SLOW count, Diesel retains the title and this piece of trash comes to an end. Sadly Diesel’s title run is circling the bowl faster and faster with each crappy main event title match. Grade: 1/2*
Justin: And coming off that red hot ladder match, it is now time for our main event. Diesel’s once promising and entertaining title reign has completely fallen apart after a heatless feud with Sid that has now spiraled into a useless mess with King Mabel. We have covered Mabel in much detail, talked about his ceiling and how he is clearly far above it. There were far better choices that could have been utilized here, such as Yokozuna, Bam Bam Bigelow or even the freshly turned British Bulldog. Or Lex Luger? He isn’t even on the show! Mabel has been executing his royal plan, part of which included the aforementioned Bulldog heel turn. Leading into the show, many wondered if Luger would also follow suit. This feud lacked any heat mainly because nobody believed Mabel would actually win the gold. It was completely pointless and really sandbagged Diesel’s reign. Mabel started in control, using his size to rough up the champ and pelting him with chops. Diesel came back with a pair of running clotheslines to the corner and dealt some elbows as well. He would try to slam Mabel, but that failed, so he went back to dishing out clotheslines and a flying shoulderblock that knocked the King to the floor. He followed with the spot of the match as he dove over the top and careened into Mabel. The crowd cheered him on but Mabel reversed a whip and sent the champ hard into the post. Mabel charged but ate a boot before sliding back inside. Diesel laid in some soft strikes as Mabel wobbled around before running Diesel into an exposed turnbuckle and planting him with a sidewalk slam. He then decided to drop all his weight on Diesel’s back with a sit-down splash. That had to hurt and reckless for no reason. Mabel looked lost from there, ambling around before missing an elbow drop. Vince was doing his best to sell the match but it was starting to feel like the mess of a main event from the year before. With the referee down, Sir Mo came in the ring and the two worked Diesel over. That brought out Luger, but Diesel hammered him as he entered, assuming he was there to help Mabel. He even clotheslined him out of the ring. Luger can’t even run in and help a friend right anymore. What a fall from grace. On the floor, Mabel squashed Diesel with a legdrop Lex would recover and chase Mo to the back but back inside, Mabel hit a belly-to-belly for a near fall. The crowd was actually into this down the stretch. The King would miss a big splash off the middle rope and Diesel capitalized with a shoulderblock off the middle rope for the win. What a blah finish. And where was Bulldog? No heat at all except for a few spots. Luger’s run-in was weird and made little sense as well. There were a couple of decent spot that save this from being a dud, but as a main event title match, it was pretty sad. Mabel looked lost by the middle of the bout and Diesel could only do so much. It is amazing to see this reign hit the skids so much. It seems like Diesel was just hanging with athletes and celebrities and having great matches. Now he is a dead champ walking. A fun SummerSlam ends with a thud for the second straight year. Grade: *
Scott: I thought I’d really like this show again when I watched it, but I didn’t. There were a couple of pleasant surprises, including a great opener and a surprisingly good Barry Horowitz/Skip match. I also liked the Undertaker/Kama match, as that lumbering powerfest was more entertaining than I remember it being. On the other hand, the Bret Hart/Isaac Yankem hasn’t stood the test of time in my opinion as even Bret couldn’t carry the relative newcomer to a decent match. I was stunned and disappointed at Alundra Blayze’s loss. The ladder match speaks for itself, one of the greatest in history, but in my final analysis of them I still think their first encounter at WrestleMania X is just a little better. The main event was a disaster as predicted which really killed what buzz the ladder match preceding it had. This is one of those shows that honestly changes with the mood of the viewer. One person may think it’s a hidden gem, others a dumpster fire. I will always think it’s a little of both, but I can’t get myself to give it a higher grade than below average. Maybe another day it will go up, but not this time. The mid-card in the company is showing some promise (including the PPV debut of Hunter Hearst-Helmsley) but the main events are still a big mess. Final Grade: D+
Justin: Well, this show was surprisingly fun and pretty entertaining up until that last match. The undercard featured some fresh faces and interesting matchups and everyone was working really hard across the board. The fans were really into much of the show as well. The ladder match was a stellar classic and if the show ended there, we have a nice offering during a rough stretch. In fact, it was very similar to 1994 in that way. But, the main event happened and we can’t ignore it. It was clearly an issue for the promotion that their champion had to be protected in matches with great workers to even deliver a passable match. He has been stuck with an unmotivated Sid, a heatless Tatanka and an overpushed Mabel while Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, Hakushi and others worked circles around him in the midcard. For years, I always questioned having guys like Hart and Taker in the midcard but i see the value now as they worked hard and kept the crowd hot and invested throughout the show. It added a feeling of depth to things if they were used correctly. It was enough to help Diesel, though, and his title reign is clearly on life support. The Luger run-in was meant to set up a feud with Bulldog and an alignment with the champ, but he wasn’t going to stick around any longer and I can’t blame him. His run started so hot back in 1993 and he was wasting away just two and a half years later. His trek at SummerSlam alone tells the story. In 1993 he was the top face of the promotion, in 1994 he was in the midcard but still in a pretty well pushed angle and now in 1995 he isn’t even on the card. For the third time in seven shows, I should add. There is some promise on the roster and we see glimpses of it here, but the company still needs to purge a good number of toxins before it could take full advantage and grow. Final Grade: B-