*** 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 1993: Lex Luger Defends Our Freedom!
August 30, 1993
Auburn Hills, Michigan
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan
Buy Rate: 1.3
Owen Hart defeated Barry Horowitz in 8:32
1) Razor Ramon defeats Ted DiBiase with a Razor’s Edge at 7:28
Fun Fact: This is Ted DiBiase’s final PPV match. His record including Survivor Series and Royal Rumble matches: 9-14-1. Not counting Survivor and Rumble matches, his record was: 7-6-1. His best winning percentage was WrestleMania, where his record was 5-2-1. With his marriage suffering due to the busy road lifestyle of the WWF, DiBiase decided to take some time off from the company. While competing in All Japan Pro Wrestling, DiBiase injured his back and was forced into permanent in ring retirement.
Fun Fact II: This is Razor Ramon’s first PPV match as a full fledged face. Over the summer, after Razor lost two matches to the 1-2-3 Kid, DiBiase started coming out and heckling Ramon about the embarrassing losses and claiming he would never lose to an upstart like the Kid. In a memorable interview, DiBiase offered Razor a job cleaning his house, specifically his toilets, since he was no longer a credible wrestler, and offered to fight the Kid on Superstars to prove he was better than Ramon. Well, during the match Ramon came out and distracted DiBiase and the Kid got the fluke pin on him, thus solidifying Ramon’s face turn. A few weeks later, Ramon also cost DiBiase’s partner IRS a match against perennial jobber P.J. Walker.
Scott: We have a sad moment to begin the biggest event of the summer. First off, Ted DiBiase curtain jerking a SummerSlam for the second year in a row makes me frown. One of the cornerstone heels of the Federation Era, time has certainly passed him by. An injury ended his career by 1994, but really there was no room for him anymore anyway. As for the Bad Guy, thanks to DiBiase he has turned full-fledged face and the crowd loves him. Wearing the alternate pink tights and boots on this night Razor comes out to a big pop and DiBiase is the perfect guy to put him over here and energize his push. The Palace is adorned in red, white and blue for the main event’s theme. It actually looked pretty cool. The match is pretty standard as DiBiase dictates tempo as he always does. It’s funny how Bobby Heenan loved Razor throughout his heel run, but he turns face and the Brain calls him “Desi Arnaz wannabe”. Razor makes the big comeback and hits the Razor’s Edge for the victory. Not realizing at the time that the Million Dollar Man’s career as a worker is over, he puts over the hot babyface and by the time we see Razor at our next PPV he’s taken a huge step forward in his push. Grade: **
JT: As we arrive in the Motor City for the sixth annual SummerSlam, the winds of change continue to gust through the WWF. The old guard continues to fade into the background and a new crop of stars is being elevated up the card throughout 1993. And that dynamic is no more evident than the opener of the show here. Despite a solid run as a heel since his debut, Razor Ramon was really starting to connect with the fans, and the cheers he received weekly on Raw and at the last two PPV outings have become too loud to ignore. So, with him suffering multiple upset losses to the upstart 1-2-3 Kid, Ted DiBiase and IRS started mocking the Bad Guy for his bad fortune. That easily allowed fans to empathize with Razor and finally turn him face outright. Looking for payback from DiBiase’s barbs, he gets to face off with the Million Dollar Man in his final WWF PPV match. DiBiase’s marriage had been to suffer due to his road lifestyle, so he was hoping to fix things up by leaving the grueling WWF schedule for a while. In the meantime, he would head to All Japan to work some shows and during that time he badly injured discs in his back that would force him to hang up the trunks. After two shows with a three man booth, we are back to last year’s SummerSlam duo of Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan here. I was happy to see DiBiase rock the white and gold suit one last time here, even though he went with the classic black trunks underneath. This is DiBiase’s first PPV singles match since losing to Virgil two years earlier at Madison Square Garden. Ramon gets a big pop and it was clear he was on his way to a really strong and steady face run. DiBiase jumped Ramon off the bell and started laying in some tight chops before the Bad Guy could even get his vest off. Razor rebounded with a back drop and fallaway slam that sent DiBiase to the floor clutching his back. Razor kept bringing the fight but DiBiase begged off and suckered him in before yanking him hard into the turnbuckle. DiBiase worked a very basic attack, using clotheslines and stomps before clutching a rear chinlock in. It was pretty cool seeing DiBase work a big singles match after a two year break, watching him methodically and confidently work through his offense, focusing on the neck to set up his finisher. Oh, and snapping up his textbook vertical suplex as always. Razor avoided the first Dream attempt but DiBiase stayed on the offensive, knocking Ramon to the floor and removing the turnbuckle pad in one of the corners. It would backfire, though, as Ramon rammed him into the corner and polished him off with the Razor’s Edge to a raucous pop. Nice win for the Bad Guy in a very solid, standard match to kick off the show. So, again we are forced to say farewell to a longtime PPV stalwart. DiBiase would return soon enough, but would never step foot in the ring as an active competitor again. Grade: **
2) The Steiners defeat The Heavenly Bodies to retain WWF Tag Team Titles when Scott pins Jimmy Del Ray with the Frankensteiner at 9:25
Fun Fact: This match marks the debut of the Heavenly Bodies and Jim Cornette. However, it is big because it is the first time Vince openly talks about and promotes another promotion; in this case Smoky Mountain Wrestling, as the Bodies were the SMW Champs at the time. It is also the first PPV match between two sets of champions.
Fun Fact II: Jim Cornette started his career in Mid-South in 1984, managing a team called the Galaxians. Of course his real claim to fame was managing the legendary Midnight Express. Bobby Eaton was a mainstay on that team, and whether it was Dennis Condrey or Stan Lane as his partner they were multi-time tag team champions in Mid-South and the NWA. They were involved in legendary feuds with the Rock n Roll Express and the Road Warriors. In 1991 he started up his own promotion, Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He putted around in WCW for a little bit in 1993 before he inked a deal with Vince to jump to the WWF while being able to promote and utilize WWF talent for Smokey Mountain.
Fun Fact III: The Steiner Brothers defeated Money, Inc to win the tag team titles at a house show in Columbus, OH on June 14. Two days later, DIBiase and IRS regained the gold in Rockford, IL. On June 19, the Steiners bounced back and won the straps in St. Louis, MO.
Fun Fact IV: The team of the Heavenly Bodies was formed in 1992 and was made up of the duo of Tom Prichard and Stan Lane. Prichard began his wrestling career in Los Angeles in 1979. He spent time in the NWA territories during the early 80s and the CWA and USWA in the late 80s before coming onboard in Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling in 1992. Stan Lane began his training under Ric Flair in 1974 in the Florida territory. He became a tag team specialist in the southern territories during the 80s, first in Mid-Southern Wrestling as part of the Fabulous Ones with Steve Keirn and then in Mid-Atlantic/Jim Crockett Promotions as one half of the Midnight Express with Bobby Eaton. Lane moved to Smoky Mountain in late 1991. The Heavenly Bodies had long running feuds in SMW with The Fantastics and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. The team was the first ever SMW tag team champions. In 1993, Lane left the group and was replaced by Jimmy Del Ray, who began wrestling in 1985, primarily in Florida Championship Wrestling. Cornette set up a cross-promotional deal with Vince and the WWF in 1993 to allow the Bodies to appear on WWF programming. Between 1993 and 1995, the Heavenly Bodies wrestled on SMW, WWF, ECW and USWA programming.
Scott: The Steiners return to their home state to defend their tag team gold against a fresh team from another promotion. Dr. Tom Prichard and “Gigolo” Jimmy Del Ray come in with their manager, also making his PPV debut. I’ve been watching Jim Cornette all the way back to 1985 on TBS Saturday nights in JCP. Cornette managed one of the greatest teams ever, the Midnight Express. He’s got a neck brace on but is leading his new charges to the ring, a team he’s been working with in Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Vince and Bobby would allude to this promotion here but many weren’t sure at the time what they were talking about. I had to actually check the Pro Wrestling Illustrated from the summer to figure out what the territory was. Based in Tennessee its Jim Cornette’s pet project and the WWF helped them out with the business side of it at the time. Scott and Rick, dressed in their Michigan colors, get taken apart early by the Bodies using expert double teaming and Corny’s tennis racket shot. The Bodies had multiple opportunities to steal the tag titles but the hometown favorites battled back and via heel miscommunication when Del Ray accidentally hit Prichard with a moonsault, Scott hit a not-too-bad Frankensteiner for the victory. That was actually a fun match with a southern territory feel that perhaps Vince isn’t totally a fan of but I liked a lot. Grade: ***
JT: This Todd Pettengill interview with the Steiner family, man. The mother has no interest in anything he is saying and the sister uses Rick’s shoot name. Anyway, I digress. Our next bout is a pretty cool tag team title match that Jim Ross was probably jabbing needles into a Vince McMahon voodoo doll back at home because he wasn’t able to call it. Over the summer, a major managerial force debuted in the WWF in Jim Cornette. A longtime NWA stalwart, Cornette had severed off and started his own promotion in the Smokey Mountains. Brought in to help steer the Yokozuna ship, Cornette also brought his SMW charges the Heavenly Bodies up north with him. And it was a great addition to a sagging tag division. With Money, Inc and the Beverly Brothers done, the heel side needed some fresh talent, and Jimmy Del Ray and Tom Prichard were a great fit. Back in June, the Steiners finally knocked off Money, Inc to win the tag straps and wear them proudly into their hometown here. They just looked right with those belts and are arguably the strongest pair of tag champs in nearly two years, since the Legion of Doom last held them. The Bodies attacked off the bell, keeping Scott on the floor while they battered Rick, who was still decked out in his letterman jacket. Scott finally made it back inside and the beating was on. The whipped the challengers around, including a Scott hitting a belly-to-belly on Dr. Tom and a tilt-a-whirl on the Gigolo to reset the match. The image of Cornette in a neck collar is what pro wrestling is really all about. The Steiners continued to manhandle the Bodies, taking turns keeping them grounded and off balance. As the crowd chanted “Let’s Go Blue”, Scott rattled both Bodies with atomic drops, but the tide turned during some quick deception that led to a Prichard bulldog. Prichard would dump Scott to the floor, where Del Ray met him with a somersault senton off the apron. As he hit the move, Heenan shouted “moonsault!” because I am guessing they had told him at one point that they use a moonsault and Bobby had never seen one. The Bodies had some really good offense and a very smooth flow to their teamwork. It was so different than what had normally been in the WWF that it really popped and stood out. Del Ray grabbed a near fall on a superkick as the Bodies kept quick tagging in and out with ease. Scott finally got a chance to make the hot tag after hitting a butterfly suplex on Prichard and Rick came in tossing clotheslines and slams left and right. Cornette would toss his racket in, which Del Ray used on Rick for a close near fall. I thought that may be it. As Prichard held Rick from behind, Del Ray went for his moonsault but Scott pulled his brother out of the way and the Bodies collided. A second later, Scott snapped Del Ray over with the Frankensteiner for the hard fought win. I always enjoy that match because it stands out from the usual WWF tag match, mainly thanks to the varied offense on display from both teams. Thankfully, the Bodies are here to stay for a while. The Steiners stay hot and complete their trip home with a nice win. Grade: **1/2
*** Joe Fowler of Coach semi-fame debuts as a backstage interviewer. ***
3) Shawn Michaels defeats Mr. Perfect by countout at 11:25 to retain WWF Intercontinental Title
Fun Fact: Mr. Perfect’s PPV Record from 1988-1993, including Rumble and Survivor Matches is: 6-12. He had a good run in 1988-1989, but after WrestleMania VI, it was all downhill. His best winning percentage was at Survivor Series where he went 3-1.
Fun Fact II: The battle between Perfect and Michaels began at WrestleMania IX when Michaels attacked Perfect during a backstage altercation with Lex Lugar following their match. On the May 17 episode of Monday Night Raw, Perfect exacted a small amount of revenge by distracting Michaels and allowing Marty Jannetty to win the Intercontinental Championship. Michaels won the belt back a month later with the assistance of his new bodyguard, Diesel.
Scott: While Perfect was coming to the ring, we had Gorilla Monsoon and Jim Ross way up in the arena doing the matches for “Radio WWF”. That was a concept that was maybe revolutionary for its time, a concept mostly for the troops overseas on Armed Forces Radio. Now let’s take a look at this matchup, which on paper seems like a match made in heaven. The current Intercontinental Champion taking on one of the greatest IC Champs of all time. They were billing it the greatest title match of all time, before it even happened. That’s sometimes a sign you may be disappointed. Then I see Shawn come to the ring and something’s different about him compared with his previous title matches this year. He seemed…fatter? I mean not grotesque fat but he seems more bloated than his PPV outings earlier in the year. That might not be a good sign either considering who his opponent is. Perfect looks to be in the best condition he’s ever looked to be in. In terms of what to expect in ring, we have easily one of the greatest technicians facing one of the top young high flyers. As the match begins and progresses, something’s just not right. The pace seems very slow (not deliberate, but actually slow). We have things like arm bars and posturing which from these two guys I never would have expected. It almost seems like Shawn was working like a power guy, with things like submission moves and kicks. Not good submission moves but things like backbreakers which are more suited to power guys and not smaller high flyers. Then when Perfect is making comebacks he’s moving in slow motion. Let’s go back to Perfect’s match with Bret Hart at King of the Ring. That match seemed so fluid with no wasted motion and both guys really working their strengths. This match both guys seemed to be moving away from what they do best and tried to experiment or something. With all the hype that surrounded this as a possible co-main event match, Shawn looking bloated and both guys not working to their strengths made what could have been an historic match very ordinary. Ordinary for these two is disappointing. Diesel, Shawn’s bodyguard gets involved and Perfect gets counted out, which doesn’t help anything for this match. Shawn retains his IC Title, but the title matches on PPV for 1993 seems to have gotten worse as the year progressed. Soon Shawn has internal company problems and his autumn is convoluted, which opens the door for someone else to “take his slot”. If you’ve never seen this match, don’t get your hopes up. Grade: **1/2
JT: Heading in this may have been the most hyped up Intercontinental Title match in quite some time. Hell, the company was basically saying “this match is going to be awesome because both of these guys are fantastic in the ring” leading into it. Despite lots of tough challengers, Michaels is 3-3 in retaining his title in PPV matches here in 1993. With those all behind him, it seemed to be all building to Perfect finally being the guy to end his run and regain his once prized title. And the match really was positioned as a way to determine if either of these guys were the greatest IC Champ of all time. Since KOTR, Michaels and Diesel have really gotten comfortable with each other and it has led to some smooth chemistry in the act. In the prematch interview, it is played up how Perfect cost Michaels the title back in May, which was a strong callback since that was a while ago now. They started a little sloppy, including a weird collision where they kind of both kept in the air, twisted around and helicoptered to the mat. Perfect reset things by going to the arm, which led to a series of reversals. Perfect shoved Shawn into the corner and landed some chops but ate a back elbow a moment later. However, he was able to avoid a moonsault and hit a clothesline for a near fall before going back to the arm. I like that they are working a lot of momentum reversals, but both seem hesitant and a step off. The crowd didn’t seem to mind though as they erupted when Perfect tossed Michaels to the floor, however things swung quickly when Diesel distracted Perfect long enough for Shawn to crack him with a superkick. Shawn would go to work on Perfect’s oft-attacked lower back, hammering it with stomps and a backbreaker, which turned into a submission hold. Perfect broke free and cracked the champ with a big running dropkick, followed by a back drop and kneelift. Perfect was working at a crisp pace during the comeback but couldn’t keep Michaels down beyond a near fall. After a battle over a backslide, Perfect got the Perfectplex, but Diesel reached in and pulled him to the floor. Perfect was pissed and started slugging away at the big man, but Diesel would end up running him into the post, leading to a really disappointing countout loss for the challenger. Again, I know they wanted Michaels to hold onto the strap, but they should have stopped putting him in there with guys they didn’t want to lose. He has had four PPV title matches in 1993 and won none cleanly and only half had pinfall finishes. For all the hype that went behind this match, I am surprised they had such a soft finish close it out. Why pump it up so much and only have them go eleven minutes to a count out? Odd decision. The match itself was fine and was just really starting to pick up in the final minutes after a sloppy start. Michaels is in an interesting spot as he has the character and ability down but is really lacking the credibility to take the next step. Perfect blows his shot and seems to be lined up for a feud with Diesel coming out of this show. Grade: **
4) IRS defeats 1-2-3 Kid with the Write-Off at 5:46
Scott: After back to back title matches, we have what seems like a glorified squash. The Kid made huge strides by upsetting Razor Ramon on that historic May 17 episode of Raw, and the plucky underdog role worked perfectly for him. IRS is pretty much floating around after Money, Inc disbanded. So we might as well have the Tax Man bully the Kid for a few minutes to fill some time on this show. The match really isn’t much, as Kid works his big spots to work the veteran over but eventually IRS settles down and wears down Kid with a ropes-aided abdominal stretch. The Kid hit a sweet moonsault but IRS kicked out of the pin and hit his Write Off for the victory. There’s really not much more to say here other than the Kid continues to be plucky, and IRS gets a random PPV win. Grade: **
JT: After months of upsets, the 1-2-3 Kid steps into a PPV ring for the first time, matching up with former tag team champ IRS. Ted DiBiase was one of Kid’s victims, so his partner here is a bit weary but also looking for revenge. It was an interesting matchup because you could see them going either way as far as a winner. It was looking as if Money, Inc was about done, so you would assume they want to rehab IRS a bit. On the other hand, Kid had been stealing wins left and right and a victory over IRS would keep him hot. I remember being surprised at the time that they didn’t run a tag match with Ramon and Kid battling Money, Inc rather than splitting them up. Kid started with a spinning heel kick, but IRS quickly used his size to splatter him with a flapjack toss. Kid is so young and so scrawny here, it is really unique to see on WWF show. IRS would start to play with him a bit, tossing him to the floor and mocking the crowd a bit as Kid recovered. This show marks the two year anniversary of Irwin’s PPV debut and he has had quite the run in the time when you think about it. Good on him. Kid landed a shot here and there, but IRS really dominated, eventually hooking in an abdominal stretch followed by a rear chinlock. The crowd rallied the Kid and the youngster fought to his feet and broke the hold by running IRS into the corner. He would follow with a moonsault, which was called correctly by Vince, for a near fall. Kid kept the pressure on, grabbing another two could on an enziguri, but Kid started going a bit too fast and ate a Write-Off clothesline on a wild charge off the ropes. That would finish him off and give IRS a tidy little victory. Kid has had a strong run but was due for a loss and rehabbing IRS with one was a smart move. The match was fine but in ways was a bit of extended squash. Grade: *1/2
*** Todd Pettengil interviews Bruce and Owen Hart, who are seated ringside. They discuss that Stu and Helen Hart are not present because Stu injured his knee after being berated by Jerry Lawler on an episode of Raw. ***
*** Jerry Lawler hobbles down the aisle on crutches and claims to have injured his knee after getting into a fiery car accident due to his crappy rental car and elderly driver. ***
5) Bret Hart defeats Doink with the Sharpshooter at 8:58
Fun Fact: This match stems from the beatdown that ended King of the Ring. Throughout the summer, Lawler tore into Bret and the entire Hart Family, marking the first time Stu, Helen, Bruce and Keith are actually brought into a storyline. On one memorable Raw, Lawler verbally assaulted Stu and Helen, who were in the arena as invited guests, during Bret’s match with Bam Bam Bigelow.
Fun Fact II: This is Matt Borne’s last PPV appearance as Doink; as the character was turned face during the fall and Borne was booted from the Federation for repeated drug offenses. He was replaced by numerous people, but Ray Liachelli would play Face Doink the most over the next two years.
Scott: The King of the Ring vs. the King. Bret comes out to a huge pop ready to take out the slimy Jerry Lawler after what happened at the end of our last PPV in Dayton. Bret gets in the ring, but Lawler comes out on crutches with an ice bag on his knee. Welcome to the world of old school Memphis Wrestling. Lawler spends the next few minutes bad mouthing Detroit, then says one of the city’s terrible car makers made a faulty unit which led to the knee injury. The place is pissed. However Lawler says he has a special guest that will fill in for him. Out comes Doink, the still evil clown. The crowd is not happy, but I loved the thought of Bret Hart and Matt Borne working a match. Lawler stays at ringside with his crutches while Bret and Doink work a great nine minute sprint. Bret wins the match when Doink can’t hit the Whoopie Cushion and he was able to twist him into the Shapshooter. That prompts Lawler to come in the ring and crack Bret with his crutch. Obviously the whole ruse was so Lawler wouldn’t have to wrestle Bret and get a cheap shot on him. Well that prompts WWF President Jack Tunney to come out and force Lawler to wrestle Bret on this night or he will be banned from the WWF for life. Grade: **1/2
JT: Well, leading in, Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler was a really highly anticipated match. It had a great build that kicked off at King of the Ring and fans that knew how great Lawler was knew this could be a classic. However, it looked like we weren’t going to get it thanks to some shenanigans from the King. And they were damn great shenanigans, as Lawler ripped into the Hart Family while weaving a crazy tale about injuring his knee while getting into a car accident caused by an old woman earlier in the day. Tremendous character and mic work by the King and it was a great heel twist to have Doink replace him in the bout, pissing off lots of people. And to take things up a notch, Doink douses Bruce and Owen with a bucket of water on his way out. What a pair of tremendous heels. Bret jumped Doink on the floor and started beating the piss out of him in and out of the ring, letting out all his anger on the poor clown as Lawler hobbled around ringside. Heenan was great here too, telling more Lawler’s story and embellishing it to great lengths. This is really a pretty high profile spot for Doink, which is pretty cool. He has certainly earned it with his character and in-ring work. Bret would continue to dominate, but he made the mistake of confronting Lawler, which allowed Doink to deck him from behind. It is really too bad that Matt Bourne bolted after this, because a heel King’s Court stable than included Doink the jester could have been tremendous. Doink targeted the leg, wrapping it around the ring post and slowly picking apart the Hitman before locking in a sweet STF! And he followed that up with a great stump puller too. Doink ruled in 1993. What a great worker and a heel he was. Bret is really hurting here and Doink has completely taken the crowd out of the match with his assault. Thankfully they woke back up as Bret quickly made a come back, running through an abridged version of his usual offense before locking in the Sharpshooter on Doink. However, before Doink could submit, the King hopped in the ring and cracked Hart with his crutch. He would continue to batter the Hitman with it as officials at ringside kept Owen and Bruce from getting involved. As Hart writhed on the mat, Lawler and Doink walked off arm-in-arm. Grade: ***
*** As Lawler and Doink head to the locker room, Jack Tunney showed up and got in Lawler’s face. Tunney would demand that Lawler now face Hart since he proved he was not truly injured. ***
6) Jerry Lawler defeats Bret Hart by disqualification at 6:32
Scott: So Bret goes after Lawler and the match then really begins. We see six and a half minutes of Bret mercilessly punishing Lawler with everything in his arsenal. Finally Bret clamps on the Sharpshooter and Lawler submits. That ends that right? Well Bret is so pissed at Lawler harassing Bret and his family since June that he won’t release the Sharpshooter. So the officials reverse the decision and Lawler wins by disqualification. Bret doesn’t care and continues to go after Lawler with all the officials coming to the back to break it up. There was a lot of stalling but I actually didn’t mind the entire package because Bret took this feud very personally and wins and losses didn’t matter to him. So regardless that he lost the match he made the King suffer. This feud is just getting started, which is fine with me because if it brings out Bret’s vicious side, I can definitely go with that. Sure he hasn’t gotten his title match yet, but that’s another argument that doesn’t apply here. This a fun, sloppy mess that gets a big feud really going. Grade: **1/2
JT: The jig is up! After teasing the audience that this match may not happen. they delivered after all and the crowd goes batshit as Hart jumps Lawler in he aisle and starts to hammer away at him. Inside the ring, Hart enjoyed ripping through the King as his brothers rooted him on. The beating spilled to the floor where King somehow found a way to reverse his fortune and began choking Hart with his crutch while also taunting Bruce and Owen. King landed a big blow by crotching Hart against the ring post, but the crowd stayed hot, doing their best to help the Hitman. Lawler completely emptied his heel bag of tricks here, egging on the brothers Hart, which would distract the referee and allow the King to keep using the crutch. A true master of psychology. Hart made his second comeback of the night, rattling Lawler with a backbreaker and stuffing him with a big piledriver before cracking him with an elbow off the middle rope. He followed that up by wrenching in the Sharpshooter, forcing Lawler to submit to a big pop. The match didn’t end there, though, as Hart refused to break the hold and was eventually disqualified as a result. I love seeing Hart snap here as he has always remained cool and calm since he started this solo run. Seeing him finally driven to this point by a real piece of shit like Lawler was great and this elongated Sharpshooter payoff worked really well. Bret would finally be dragged off Lawler after a long while, but still did his best to attack him, as did Bruce and Owen. Lawler was finally dumped on a stretch and wheeled off, but he was sure to hold up his hand victoriously as he was scooted backstage. That was a tremendous piece of work right there. All of it. From the moment Lawler hobbled out to the moment he was stretchered off, it may have been the best half hour of WWF PPV this year. And the best part is that this feud is clearly set to continue. Grade: ***1/2
7) Ludvig Borga defeats Marty Jannetty with a Torture Rack at 5:14
Fun Fact: Tony Halme was from Helsinki, Finland and began his professional wrestling career in the late 80s, training under Verne Gagne. He debuted in the UWF in October 1990 before moving to Japan and wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling from late 1990 until 1993. Halme made his WWF debut at the July 6, 1993 Superstars taping, which aired on July 10. He took on the personal of Ludvig Borga, a Finnish heel who looked down on Americans due to their stances on education and environmental issues.
Scott: The evil bully from Helsinki makes his WWF PPV debut here against the floating Rocker. After his feud with Shawn Michaels died out, Marty became in essence a JTTS, taking on the up and coming heels and Borga was certainly one of them. Vince was running out of evil countries to create bad guys for, so now we have to feud with Finland. Do they even have a military? Anyway the match is a glorified squash as Borga wins with his backbreaker and sets his sights on the top of the card. The vignettes ripping the USA and all its cities set up Borga’s character nicely and this match, although truly nothing more than fill, does establish Borga as a character not to be messed with. My PIC JT’s beloved Helsinki Warrior gets the big win to keep his push going. Grade: **
JT: American polluters watch out because Ludvig Borga has arrived and he is not pleased with your wasteful ways. Straight of Helsinki, Borga showed up and really talked some shit to Americans, thrashing them for the way they were ruining the planet and not caring about education and other important issues. So, in his quest to defeat all that is wrong with America, Borga first decided to target the true picture of excess, Marty Jannetty. After returning to the company as a surprise on Raw back in May, Jannetty had actually managed to hang around in the mid card as opposed to getting fired again. Borga’s tights were a sight to behold and his Finnish national anthem theme music was a treat for the ears. Borga wasted no time in laying the wood to Jannety, burying knees into his midsection and dropping bombs across his back. In a nice spot, Borga hoisted Jannetty high into the air and cracked him with an uppercut to the gut on his way down. Borga kept attacking the ribs and lower midsection, making it tough for Jannetty to catch his breath and get any offense in. Marty did come back with right hands, but Borga sent him spiraling with a big clothesline. Marty recovered again and drilled Borga with two superkicks, but Borga caught him on a cross body attempt and spiked him down with a powerslam. A moment later, Borga hoisted Jannetty in the torture rack backbreaker to pick up the win. Nice squash by Borga to set him up for some bigger things. This was a good role for Marty at this point as his name value made him competitive and his selling makes him perfect to put big dudes like Borga over. Grade: *1/2
8) Undertaker defeats Giant Gonzalez in a Rest In Peace match with a Flying Clothesline at 8:02
Fun Fact: This is Giant Gonzalez’s final PPV appearance. He would appear in the IC title battle royal on the 10/4 RAW, and his final WWF appearance took place on the 10/24 Superstars. He would disappear from wrestling, only to resurface in New Japan as his own WCW moniker El Gigante. He retired after his match with Great Muta in February 1995, and resided in his native Argentina until his death in September 2010. Gonzalez had suffered from health problems related to his massive size, and had been confined to a wheelchair up until his death.
Fun Fact II: At the May 24 TV tapings, Undertaker and Paul Bearer were attacked by Gonzalez and Mr. Hughes and the urn was stolen. Paul Bearer would remain out of action until the SummerSlam match. The Rest In Peace match was set for SummerSlam, with announcers stating that only the Undertaker knew the rules of the match. Leading up to SummerSlam, Undertaker and Gonzalez would have a ridiculous number of matches at house shows resulting in disqualifications.
Scott: Why for the love of God did they have to do a rematch to this feud? The WrestleMania match was hideous, truly putrid. However the chloroform disqualification led everyone to know for sure there will be a rematch. So what is a Rest in Peace match? I really have no idea. There’s no weapons and it’s not no-disqualification. So what is the point? No idea. The urn was stolen during the build to this feud so Harvey Wippleman comes out with it, complete in his purple suit. The match is once again fairly terrible, with the highlight being Paul Bearer coming out mid-match with a black wreath and clotheslining Wippleman to get the urn back. Taker mercifully ends this mess with a clothesline off the top rope. I believe now the feud is over, but to give us an added swerve nobody cared about, Gonzalez turns face by chokeslamming Wippleman after the match. This may go down in the annals of professional wrestling as Undertaker’s worst feud on so many levels. Gonzalez’s terrible outfit, lack of workrate and overall blasé matches. Gonzalez wouldn’t last too much longer in the company and fortunately Taker’s such a popular character that he survives this mess and moves on. Sadly his run of lousy opponents continues to plague him for the next couple of years. Grade: 1/2*
Justin: Well, they shocked me back at WrestleMania with how much i ended up enjoying their energetic brawl, but something tells me lightning won’t strike twice. Giant Gonzalez and Mr. Hughes had beaten the piss out of Undertaker and Paul Bearer back in May. Taker had since returned but Bearer was still on the shelf. With Hughes now gone from the promotion, Taker was granted a rematch with Gonzalez under some sort of mysterious rules that only he knew about. Wipplman still had the urn with him, stolen when his charges wiped out the Deadman. Taker’s entrance was pretty good here as the arena was cloaked in darkness until he reached the ring and raised them up with a simple motion. Taker landed some right hands early but Gonzalez wobbled through and smashed him with overhead chops. Taker fired back but walked into a clubbing hand to knock him to the mat. Gonzalez chucked the Deadman to the floor where the two would trade off punches until the Giant ran him into the steps and bashed him with a chair to the gut and back. As he did, Vince announced that there were no rules in this one, so I guess that is what the stipulation entails. Those were actually pretty decent chair shots by Gonzalez. Back inside, Taker kept trying to crawl to the urn but Gonzalez cut him off and kept using his basic strikes to control. This match has had its moments but is way slower than its predecessor and doesn’t have anywhere near the fun atmosphere that Vegas had brought. As Gonzalez choked Taker, the gong echoed in the arena and Paul Bearer made his return, carrying a black wreath along with him. He would deck Wippleman and take back his urn. And as he did, Taker started to make his comeback. After a real awkward slam, Taker sat up and started a clothesline based assault that finally dropped Gonzales to a knee. Taker would ascend the top rope an collide into Gonzalez with a flying clothesline to pick up the win. Well, that feud should finally be done. Again, this wasn’t awful but it really wasn’t very good at all either. They showed some energy in certain spots and the finish was cool, but otherwise it was plodding and pedantic. It was for the best that Taker could move on away from this feud for a while. After the match, Gonzalez turned on his manager and chokeslammed Harvey to the mat before dumping the wreath on his chest and hobbling off into the sunset. Grade: 1/2*
9) Smoking Gunns & Tatanka defeat Headshrinkers & Bam Bam Bigelow when Tatanka pins Samu with a roll-up at 11:13
Fun Fact: This match was originally set to be a mixed tag match between Tatanka and Sherri Martel against Bam Bam Bigelow and Luna Vachon. But when Martel left the WWF in July 1993, the match had to be reworked. The Gunns and Headshrinkers competed against each other in the tag team division, but there was no real rivalry or storyline going into this match. During the May 1 Superstars taping, Bigelow had attacked and cut Tatanka’s hair, which the Native American star had dyed red as a tribute to his Lumbee tribe.
Scott: Our final tune up match before the main event is a six-man tag match with two hot mid-carders and two burgeoning tag teams. Bigelow is coming off a great performance at the King of the Ring, wrestling two big matches and losing in the finals. Since then he’s been floating around, as has Tatanka who wrestled that 15-minute draw with Lex Luger at KOTR. The two tag teams are trying to jockey for position in the ranks and are aiming to be the next team to face the Steiners for those tag team championships. The match is a straightforward fun affair that saw the Shrinkers work well in a double team atmosphere, being really vicious and harkening to their Samoan Swat Team days in NWA/WCW. Tatanka continues his hot streak by ducking out of the way of simultaneous headbutts off the top rope by all three heels and pinning Samu for the victory. The crowd is happy with the faces winning and we move on to our main event. Grade: **
JT: One more match to go before our main event features six pretty good workers that is centered around one main feud. Tatanka and Bigelow have been at odds since the spring when Bigelow cut some of Tatanka’s red tinted hair, which was an affront to his roots. Tatanka has been aiming for revenge since. He teams with the newcomer Smoking Gunns and Bigelow’s backup is the always dangerous Headshrinkers. The Gunns have had a solid start to their run, but have yet to been embroiled in any sort of feud. The heels opened with a nice triple clothesline that led to Bigelow punishing Tatanka with size advantage. It was cool that they went right into that matchup off the bell. Tatanka came back with a flurry of right hands and a backdrop to rattle the Bammer. Both men wiped out on a stiff midair collision and that led to both tagging out and the match resetting with Billy and Fatu going at it. Billy would shake off a thrust kick and hit a DDT followed by a bulldog off the top rope. Fatu’s size would be a bit too much and soon Billy was caught in a Headshrinker double team that ended with him being spiked across the top rope. Bart would eventually tag in but it was just more of the same, this time with Bigelow included in the action. Vince mentions how Bigelow and the Headshrinkers were functioning well as a team and I agree, they look cool as a unit and could be fun with a loose association. Bart tried to run Fatu’s head to the mat, but he shrugged it right off and wiped the cowboy out with a big clothesline. The heat segment chugged along with Bart really taking a shit kicking, finally getting the chance to tag in Tatanka after Bigelow missed a big charge in the corner. Tatanka came in on fire, smacking Bigelow with a pair of chops before slamming him to the mat. He would grab a near fall after a DDT and a chop off the top, but Bigelow survived and slugged his way back into it. Tatanka would go into his war dane, but Bigelow cut that short with a nice enziguri. Things would break down with both Gunns getting dumped to the floor and the heels triple teaming Tatanka. After a Bigelow splash in the corner and a triple headbutt, all three ascended the top rope but crashed and burned on headbutt attempts when Tatanka dodged them. A moment later, Tatanka rolled up Samu for the win. That was pretty damn fun. Nothing can cleanse the palette like a good old fast paced six man tag. Even with the long heat segment, the match never really slowed down and there was enough meat left on the Tatanka/Bigelow bone to keep that feud rolling on. Grade: **1/2
*** Joe Fowler interviews Hank Carter, Lex Luger’s Lex Express driver. ***
10) Lex Luger defeats Yokozuna by countout at 17:56; Yokozuna retains WWF World Title
Fun Fact: After defeating Hulk Hogan for the WWF Title, Yokozuna decided to spit in the face of America by holding a bodyslam contest on the deck of the USS Intrepid on the Fourth of July. Sports stars and wrestlers all tried to slam the giant Champion, but one after another failed. Just as all hope was lost, a helicopter landed and out came Lex Luger in a red, white and blue shirt. Luger marched to the ring, stared down Yoko and then slammed him, popping the crowd and turning himself face. After Luger slammed Yoko he demanded a World Title shot, a request that was denied by Yokozuna through his new American Spokesman, Jim Cornette. Luger pleaded with Jack Tunney for a title match, and even went as far as to drive around the country in a red, white and blue bus known as the Lex Express. He stopped in town after town, greeting fans and getting them to sign his petition. It was a cool idea that made the fans seem important, but Luger came off as a big, desperate dork as a result. Tunney and Cornette gave him the shot, on the condition his loaded forearm had a protective pad on it and that this would be his only World Title shot.
Scott: I felt like leading into this match, up to Randy Savage coming to the ring with singer Aaron Neville, who sang the National Anthem, the WWF was trying to recapture the magic from WrestleMania VII. That was evil Sergeant Slaughter holding the WWF Championship hostage during the Gulf War when he was vanquished by All-American hero Hulk Hogan. All the flags and red, white and blue entrance was and bunting set the theme. The problem is back in 1991 patriotism was at a real life all-time high. Nothing was really going on in the world back in 1993 that got the country fired up patriotically. The company tried their best to really get Luger over as the next Hulk Hogan, after Vince kicked the real one out of the company. Both men come down the aisle to their appropriate heat. Yokozuna is the hottest heel around and it shows with the raining down of boos while he’s walking down the aisle. After eliminating the aforementioned Hogan at KOTR, he was really garnering the heat a great heel WWF Champion should. He comes to the ring with Mr. Fuji and his American representative Jim Cornette. I will give Lex Luger this, he got a crazy pop from the crowd at the Palace on this night. As for the match, it certainly isn’t the greatest one on the planet, but never pretended to be. It was definitely laid out like an old school Hulk Hogan match. Luger got some early offense in but eventually the massive WWF Champion spent the majority of the match just leaning on Luger with power moves and his usual nerve pinch hold. Vince and Bobby were great in this match and the crowd was getting more and more invested as it went along. Luger makes the big comeback and then the ending that befuddles many to this day. Or maybe just me. Luger Irish whips the Champion into the ropes and drills him with the Bionic Forearm. Yoko goes flying to the floor, knocked out cold. The referee counts while Luger takes out Jim Cornette on the apron. Eventually Yoko is counted out and Luger wins the match. Suddenly the place goes crazy, balloons fall from the ceiling and all the babyfaces come out to celebrate. There’s just one problem. Luger DIDN’T WIN THE TITLE. The WWF Champion lays out on the floor for the rest of the broadcast but is still WWF Champion. I’ve never seen anybody get excited over a COUNTOUT. What I think should have happened is that Luger should have drilled Yoko with the forearm, but PINNED him and won the WWF Title. Then have the crazy celebrations and all that. Then the next night on Raw, Jim Cornette protests that Luger used the forearm uncovered or something, and either give the title back to Yoko, or they have a big Raw match a few weeks after and Yoko wins (maybe with interference from Ludvig Borga, since they were face to face after the show). Getting all giddy and crazy over a countout win just makes no sense whatsoever. I did like the match, more than I have the past few times I watched it, but the ending is still so bizarre. Grade: **1/2
JT: They couldn’t let poor Hank Carter in the building? He had to watch the show on a tiny monitor in his bus? Poor guy. Anyway, it is main event time. After shocking the WWF on Independence Day by turning face and slamming the mammoth World Champion, Lex Luger criss-crossed the nation to campaign for a SummerSlam title match. It was finally granted, but Jim Cornette ensured it would be his only one and that his loaded forearm had to be protected with a pad. Cornette being added as Yoko’s spokesperson was a great touch and added some additional heat to the whole package. Americana was running wild throughout this whole show, but it was kicked up a notch when the show’s host Randy Savage led out the legendary Aaron Neville to sing the National Anthem before the bell. Of course, we also got treated to the Japanese anthem prior to that, and those two combined made this feel like a big time matchup. The crowd here bought right in as they showered the champ with jeers while rallying the red, white and blue trimmed challenger. The match was also kicked up a notch in that it was Luger’s first televised bout since the big bodyslam. Since he was on the bus, all of the build happened via promos. Luger got off to a quick start, using fists at first before turning to kick at the legs of Yoko, eventually taking him down with it. Vince notes that Lex has slimmed down for this, but as we saw back in June, that may not be the best strategy to take out the massive champion. Luger would control for a few more minutes until Yoko got his footing and clubbed the challenger down. Lex would have enough wherewithal to stop a Fuji salt attack but a bodyslam attempt backfired and allowed Yoko to plant him with a side kick. Yoko would dominate on the floor but came up empty with a chair strike that allowed Lex the chance to punch his way back into it. Lex would drill Yoko with a series of top rope axe handles for a near fall but a double clothesline would stunt his momentum. With Cornette tying up the referee, Fuji tossed in the salt bucket, which Yoko used to paste Luger. The champion followed with a big belly-to-belly for a near fall that the dejected Vince assumed was going to finish the match off. Yoko would start to lean on Lex with his weight, but the challenger wouldn’t stay down and the crowd kept rallying him. Eventually, the champ would grab his nerve hold and what had been a pretty well paced match ground to a halt. Lex fought up out of the hold but again a bodyslam attempt failed and he collapsed under the weight. Yoko took advantage and dragged Luger to the corner, but in a last ditch effort to save his chances, Lex avoided the Banzai Splash, allowing the champion to land hard on the mat. Moments later, Yoko missed on a corner charge and Luger finally hit the slam. After slugging down Fuji, Luger pelted Yoko with his exposed forearm behind the referee’s back. Yoko tumbled to the floor and as the ref counted, Luger just paced around the ring before getting distracted by Cornette, who he also cracked in the head. And with that, Yoko was counted out and Luger celebrated like he won the Super Bowl. I mean, he didn’t show any anger on any level that he didn’t win the title. As Vince shouted about Luger doing the unthinkable, Savage, Tatanka and the Steiners came in to the ring to celebrate their hero. Vince finally admits that Luger didn’t win the title but quickly moves on. Thankfully Heenan poured it on, shitting on Luger blowing his only chance. As balloons fell from the sky, Luger got paraded around the ring on the shoulders of his friends. The whole thing was just so hollow. While I loved Luger’s heel gimmick I can’t totally fault the company for giving it a go with him on top. The key was…they had to pull the damn trigger! I know they were probably hesitant to have Yoko lose again so quickly and that they were eyeing WrestleMania, but Luger was hot and the crowd would have went bananas if he pulled it off. They risked making Luger the choker he tended to be in WCW for a later payoff, but they were in a tough spot and needed someone to catch fire and this could have been it. Just go for it. The match was much better than anyone could have expected but the ending just leaves you feeling empty and a bit duped. There was zero reason Luger should have celebrated the way did. Maybe if there was something else on the line for that type of win, I could see it. But this was just nonsense, and it ruined a decent match with a strong build and made your new top face look kind of stupid. Grade: **1/2
*** In a Coliseum Video exclusive, Ludvig Borga confronts Lex Luger in his locker room. Borga would run down America and Luger and vow to crush Lex if they ever met in the ring. ***
Scott: This is a fascinating show. It has that old school Federation Era feel to it, although the roster is drastically changed then even from one year earlier at Wembley Stadium. Gone is Bulldog, the LOD, Money Inc, and Big Boss Man. Bret Hart may have actually stepped back but Shawn Michaels is more high profile. It had an electric atmosphere surrounding it, mostly due to the patriotic main event and the hometown return of the Steiners as Tag Team Champions. The Gonzalez/Taker stuff was trash as expected but otherwise this wasn’t as bad a show as many people think it is on paper. The combination of Gonzalez/Taker, Luger’s weird win and the disappointing Michaels/Perfect match sticks in people’s minds. However there’s a perverse entertainment value to this show that harkens back to the Federation Era. This will probably be the last time during the New Generation Era that a show with average talent survives fan blasting due to the nostalgia feel. I think if you watch this show you may get a feeling of “Even though there was utter crap at points, I really enjoyed this.” It’s overall a middle of the road show, but an entertaining one. Final Grade: C+
JT: Well, what could have been the launching point of a new era with either the crowning of Bret Hart (in theory) or Lex Luger (pull the trigger) ends with a really boneheaded decision. If Luger is going to win by countout and not take the title here, why not at least have him act upset? The celebration killed it much more than the actual decision. The undercard was a bit disappointing on a whole as well outside of the tag title match and the Bret Hart/Jerry Lawler saga. I said my piece on Perfect/Michaels above but them not delivering really hurt this card. That all said, I do believe if Luger takes the title to close the show, this event would be looked at a bit more fondly and not as incredulously. For as much guff as they get for swerving off Hart for Luger, Lex was pretty hot after the turn and nobody would have blamed them if they took the title back off Yoko this quickly again. As is, this is a card that carries nostalgia value and is worth a check just for the Hart/Lawler stuff but it was definitely disappointing after the hype and build. Final Grade: C