*** Scott & Justin’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 1991: Match Made in Hell For Sure
August 26, 1991
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
Buy Rate: 2.7
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, and Roddy Piper
1) The Dragon, Texas Tornado and British Bulldog defeat Power & Glory and The Warlord when Dragon pinned Paul Roma with the high cross body at 10:42
Fun Fact I: The Dragon is of course Ricky Steamboat, who’s making his return to the WWF after spending the past two and a half years in the NWA/WCW and on the independent circuit. In that time he won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Ric Flair on February 20, 1989 in Chicago. This match and the two subsequent rematches are considered one of the greatest trilogies of matches in one feud in the modern era. Unfortunately because he left on bad terms in 1988, he’s basically returned as a newcomer, as the announcers are acting like he was a rookie at times. Shortly after Ricky won the I-C Title at WrestleMania III, his wife became pregnant, so the Dragon asked for 4-6 weeks off to help her with their first child. Since he was the IC Champ, Vince did not want him off TV and house shows for that long. After a lengthy argument, Vince gave him the time off, but made him drop the title to The Honky Tonk Man. Vince never really seemed to forgive Steamboat for forcing his hand like that after he put faith in him, so he apparently took out his revenge three years later. In early 1991, Steamboat returned to the WWF. Vince reportedly instructed all of his announcers to act like he had never wrestled before and to not mention his real name, as they could only call him “the Dragon” and had to act like he was a “young up and coming rookie.” He was also forced to dress like an actual Dragon, and even had to blow fire during his entrance.
Fun Fact II: This show marks the final PPV appearances of Paul Roma. Paul Roma’s final record is 4-6. He was 0-2 at the Royal Rumble, 0-2 at WrestleMania, 1-1 at SummerSlam and 3-1 at Survivor Series.
Fun Fact III: This also marks the final appearance of the Slickster. Slick would stick around for a while, primarily as the manager of The Warlord until the 11/4 Prime Time Wrestling when he would get powerslammed by the Bulldog. Harvey Wippleman would replace Slick as manager of The Warlord after the incident. Slick would return a month later on the 12/16 Prime Time Wrestling as Reverend Slick, essentially turning face and renouncing his past. The Reverend character is a playoff of real life, as Slick is an ordained minister. He would be a mainstay on Prime Time throughout 1992, performing the preshow sermon at the 1992 Survivor Series. Slick would stick around through the early part of 1993, serving as the manager of Kamala as he attempted to reform him and show that he is not a beast and that he has a heart inside him. Slick made his return at WrestleMania 23 as he danced with various wrestlers. Slick would also appear at a later episode of Old School RAW, standing with Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik in the ring.
Scott: We open the show with a pretty swank six-man tag opener. I love this heel team of Slick’s guys, all big time powerhouses. The babyface team is a unique bunch, which includes the return of the former Intercontinental Champion Ricky Steamboat. Steamboat left on relatively bad terms in 1988 and then won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 1989. That was part of the epic feud with Ric Flair that included three of the greatest matches in wrestling history. The chemistry between Heenan, Gorilla and Piper is slightly off early as Piper just throws jabs at Bobby (a lot of them unprovoked) and it takes away from what is going on in the ring. The action is hot and heavy as both teams go all out here, and of course the awesome MSG crowd will keep the energy level up. The action is so back and forth that the announcers lose track at one point of who are the legal men in the ring. The faces win at the end and the crowd is red hot to get started. Grade: **1/2
Justin: For the first time since SummerSlam 1988, we are back inside Madison Square Garden for a PPV event. It has been a pretty interesting summer, with a lot of change within the roster, but a lot of the same up at the top since when we last left off in Los Angeles. Since he is now officially no longer a manager and has transitioned fully into the booth, Bobby Heenan is here as a color commentator, joining Gorilla Monsoon and Roddy Piper. Monsoon is announcing his first SummerSlam since that inaugural edition back in 1988. The crowd was hot as fire right out of the gate, and that was fitting considering one of the participants of the match. Ricky Steamboat was back after a trip down south, but he pretty much just called the Dragon now and is decked out as such, breathing fire on his way to the ring. Here, he teams up with a couple of very over midcard stars headed in opposite directions in Texas Tornado and British Bulldog. Tornado is just about done as anything useful but Bulldog’s stock is clearly on the rise. Across the ring is Slick’s fantastic trio of Warlord and Power & Glory. This unit is a strong one, if you harken back to Survivor Series, they were part of the Visionaries team that survived in tact. Heenan notes right away that Slick’s tandem holds the advantage due to that experience. Dragon and Roma opened things up as the announcers hyped the rest of our card. I love the black and white color scheme for Slick’s men. I am still undecided on Hercules’ mustache though. Dragon mainly controlled things, working his usual array of armdrags and strikes. Both would tag out, allowing Hercules and Tornado to trade some power offense. Tornado was looking somewhat lucid here, so he must have been having a good day, which is nice to see. Herc would go to the eyes and quickly tag Warlord in, but Tornado was able to also tag, giving us a rematch of the WrestleMania VII slugfest. Bulldog struck first, planting Warlord with some clotheslines before taking him over with a great vertical suplex. Dragon was back in next and he kept the offense coming, but that ended with a botched monkey flip that left Steamboat in a deep hole. Slick’s boys worked him over good, including a great clothesline from Warlord just when Dragon had an opening. They also used some good heel tactics to keep Dragon trapped, working like a true heel machine. The other positive about the heel team is their ability to make simple moves look devastating thanks to their power and snap. It also didn’t hurt to have Dragon selling them. With Herc in, Dragon found another opening, but the Mighty One caught him in a charge and dropped him with a stun gun. With Warlord in full control, Dragon was able to miraculously stun him with boots to the face, allowing him to tag in Tornado, who cleaned house with a series of right hands. The face side almost grabbed a win when Tornado decked Warlord with a discus punch while he was holding Bulldog up. Moments later, Bulldog dropped Roma with a powerslam and then tagged in Dragon, who hit a cross body for the win. Whew, what an opener. That easily could have went another ten minutes with Steamboat’s fantastic selling and the machine like heel offense of Slick’s group. Dragon would be gone by our next show, sadly, but it was nice to see him one more time. Bulldog remains on the rise, picking up momentum off his team’s win here. As one last final note, both teams always tagged in and out in the same order (Roma -> Hercules -> Warlord; Dragon -> Tornado -> Bulldog). Grade: **1/2
2) Bret Hart defeats Mr. Perfect to win WWF Intercontinental Title when Perfect submits to the Sharpshooter at 18:03
Fun Fact I: Mr. Perfect went into this match with a severe back injury, and was planning on taking time off after this match.
Fun Fact II: This would be the first, but certainly not the last, time Bret Hart’s family members were in the crowd for a major match.
Scott: I remember my brother and I watching Superstars one Saturday morning when this match was announced, and instantly he marked out. Two exceptional in-ring performers battling it out for the richest mid-card prize in the business is exactly what this show needed. Perfect is on a big run since regaining the belt in November, and on the other side we finally see the rip cord pulled on the Bret Hart singles run. And the match delivered precisely as advertised. You can definitely tell that Perfect is in the midst of a back injury as he’s walking very gingerly and looking a little stiff. His singlet is ripped right down the middle in the first few minutes as Bret is pulling out all the stops. Both men are telling a great story as Perfect dictates the action and tries to soften up the challenger for the Perfectplex. Perfect is moving very deliberately due to the back injury but when Bret kicked out of the Perfectplex you knew something special was going to happen. Bret and Perfect then go back and forth and the place is going crazy. Bret slapped on the Sharpshooter and Perfect quit out of nowhere. The crowd goes absolutely crazy as Bret Hart’s HOF solo career begins right here with his first singles championship. We get his parents in the crowd and the hilarious moment of Lord Alfred Hayes cutting Stu Hart off in mid-sentence. We have a new IC Champion, and Perfect leaves active competition for a while. This goes down as one of the greatest IC Title matches of all time. Grade: *****
Justin: We have been talking about it for years now, but we have finally reached the promised land. The often rumored, many times teased solo run of Bret Hart has arrived! Shortly after WrestleMania, the Hart Foundation went separate ways, ready to embark on new journeys. Hart immediately made his presence felt, working his way up the ladder quickly and positioning himself for a shot at Mr. Perfect’s prized Intercontinental Title. Perfect and his new manager Coach sauntered down the aisle, cocky as ever, but inside things weren’t as composed as they looked as Perfect was nursing a serious back injury. We discussed how despite Boss Man taking the gold seemed logical back at Mania, there was a reason Perfect needed to keep hold of his strap, and this is what we meant. The hype by bell time was very high and many expected a classic from these two. With the Hart Family in the crowd cheering him on, Bret got off to a fast start, keeping Perfect off his feet and grinding him with a side headlock. I know Heenan was done at ringside, but Perfect should have just stayed on his own instead of hooking up with Coach. It was a really weird pairing that didn’t seem to ever really click during their brief run together. Perfect seemed completely out of sorts and at a slower pace than the Hitman, as any time he got a glimpse of an opening, he was too slow to hit the hole, letting Bret pop up and slug him right back. As Bret kept wearing him down, Perfect even seemed to fall apart physically, with his singlet strap getting torn in half and his hair becoming a permed, bushy mess. He would finally use the referee as a distraction to land a cheap shot to stop Bret cold. The Hitman would end up on the floor and in a great touch, Perfect stepped on his back to vault himself back in the ring. As Bret climbed to the apron, Perfect met him and shoved him off into a cameraman that was near the barricade. Bret shook it off and got hot again, grabbing a near fall before Perfect just decked him in the face with an awesome right hand. Great spot there. Finally, Perfect started to look like himself, hitting his traditional spots, focusing on the neck and back of the Hitman. I really enjoyed Bret’s comeback attempts here, always trying to punch his way back in, hoping to land a shot stiff enough to weaken Perfect and give him a minute to breathe. All well timed too. As the fans chanted “Let’s Go Bret”, Perfect wrenched in a tight sleeperhold, forcing the challenger to the mat. Bret survived a crucifix gone wrong but was too weak to mount another comeback, especially after he took a violent trip to the buckles.
It was then that the tide turned and we knew we had something special at hand. Perfect hooked the leg and took Bret over with the Perfectplex, but Hart kicked out clean to a huge pop. Bret got heated up, working in his offense, one move at a time, capped by a near fall off a stiff elbow to the face from the second turnbuckle. Both men spilled back to the floor where Perfect ate the post and back inside, Bret started to work Perfect’s leg, kicking it viciously all over the ring. Just as he started to hook the Sharpshooter, Coach hopped on the apron, drawing the Hitman over. Perfect took advantage and crotched Bret with the middle rope. He would continue to work the groin, dropping a series of legdrops, but he tried one too many as on the third attempt, Bret blocked it, hooked the leg and twisted Perfect over into the Sharpshooter. Perfect would protect his back by quickly submitting, giving us a new Intercontinental Champion and a monstrous pop from the MSG faithful. What a fantastic match and a huge crowning moment for Hart. It was clearly a passing of the torch for the mid card and a sign of greatness to come. The match started just a little choppy but a few minutes in it really got cranked up right into a smart, well worked finish. Hart would celebrate with his family after the bout, something that will become a staple for years to come. Kudos to Perfect as well, selflessly putting Hart over strong, including letting him blow up his finisher, before taking time off to rest up. Grade: ****
3) The Natural Disasters defeat the Bushwhackers when Earthquake pinned Luke with the Earthquake at 6:26
Fun Fact I: This would be the last WWF PPV appearance for the great Andre the Giant. He would second the Bushwhackers to the ring. Andre would die of a heart attack on January 27, 1993 in his native France.
Fun Fact II: The Natural Disasters formed on the 6/5 Superstars. Tugboat was teaming up with the Bushwhackers in a six man tag match against Earthquake and the Nasty Boys. Midway through the match, Tugboat turned on his teammates and helped Earthquake pin Luke. Then on the 6/17 Prime Time Wrestling, Jimmy Hart introduced Earthquake’s new teammate: Typhoon.
Fun Fact III: Earthquake had a very busy middle of 1991. On the 4/27 Superstars, Earthquake was facing off with Jake Roberts. Halfway through the match, Quake tied Jake in the ropes, dragged the bag with Damien into the middle of the ring and crushed him with a series of Earthquake splashes. Jake was devastated and that moment could be the main one to point to when Jake would have a change of heart later in the summer. Earthquake’s destruction, however, did not end there. During the spring and early summer, rumors were swirling of an impending return for Andre the Giant, and Andre had been entertaining offers from various managers to manage him when he made his return to wrestling. On the 6/1 episode of Superstars, Jimmy Hart made his pitch to the Giant, but Andre rejected him. Earthquake then pounced, took Andre down and destroyed his knee with a series of elbow drops. As a result of both of these attacks, the original planned match for this show, according to WWF Magazine, was indeed Jake Roberts & Andre the Giant vs. the Natural Disasters. Whether or not that was the plan and it changed or it was just printed to mislead fans, it was a match that could have been intriguing on many levels. Alas, the match was changed to this one here, and Andre is in the corner of the Bushwhackers for his final moment in the WWF sun.
Scott: Our next match pits a freshly minted heel team of Earthquake and the heel-turning Tugboat (now called Typhoon) taking on the face-licking buffoons from New Zealand. This feud is more about Earthquake attacking the aging Andre the Giant on Superstars and the 8th Wonder of the World coming to ringside for revenge. The match really isn’t much, and the Bushwhackers were merely just fodder for this new big heel team and Andre or no Andre it was the right call. The big heels then go after the crutched Andre, but the Legion of Doom come out and cut them off. That begins a feud for later in the year. Grade: **
Justin: Well, on paper this match seems like a bit of a throwaway, but a lot was going on. Back at Mania, Earthquake seemed a bit lost in the shuffle, his big main event run was over but he was still hot enough to mean something. So, they decided to put him into a top heel tag team, which made complete sense. Enter the floundering Tugboat, who was serving zero purpose at all by the spring of 1991. He would turn heel, be dubbed Typhoon and the Natural Disasters immediately became a force in the WWF. They square off with the Bushwhackers here, as they were the team that Typhoon turned on to make his, ahem, splash. The Whackers have Andre the Giant in their corner, as he was looking for revenge after Quake messed up his knee over the summer. I always wonder what that rumored Andre & Jake Roberts vs. Natural Disasters match would have been like. Ah, to dream. We haven’t seen the Whackers in a straight up PPV tag match since the 1990 Royal Rumble so we will see if they make the most of it. Andre really seemed happy here, something you didn’t always see. He had a big smile on his face and was really playing things up. Heenan had a great line here when Piper asked him if he were the Whackers manager, how would he prep them here: “If I managed the Bushwhackers, I would commit suicide.” Butch wasted no time with the trickery, biting Typhoon on the ass and peppering him with punches. Things broke down right away and the Whackers were able to completely overwhelm the big men, slinging them into each other and then using Quake as a battering ram on Typhoon. As the Disasters regrouped, the Whackers whacked, but things went sour when they got caught celebrating, allowing Quake to hammer Butch and take over. The Disasters tagged in and out, wearing down Butch with with various submissions, including an old school over-the-shoulder backbreaker and a bear hug. Butch was able to escape log enough to tag in Luke, and he actually gave Typhoon a little run for his money. Things broke down again and the Whackers hit battering rams on both Disasters before slamming them into each other and scoring a near fall on Typhoon. Outside, Quake busted Butch with a backbreaker and then slid back inside to squish Luke. He quickly followed with an Earthquake Splash to put a nail in the coffin. That was decent enough for a semi-squash, with the Whackers being over and feisty enough to give it a go. The Disasters had some great chemistry immediately and worked really well as a unit, with a great presence as well. After the bell, the Disasters teased attacking Andre, but the Legion of Doom made the save and ran them off. Grade: *
*** During the last match, Bobby Heenan left the announce booth to go on a quick mission. Once he was backstage, he knocked on Hulk Hogan’s dressing room. When the door opens (you don’t actually see Hogan do it) Heenan held up a gold belt and proclaimed that Ric Flair would defeat Hogan one on one and Flair was the “Real World Heavyweight Champion”. The door was slammed in Bobby’s face and he was humiliated, but that wasn’t the point. This was no random anonymous belt. This was the REAL NWA World Heavyweight Championship belt. It was official. Ric Flair was coming to the World Wrestling Federation. Heenan had shown the belt off on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling a couple of weeks before SummerSlam. We will have more on this situation and Flair himself in our next review. “Hurry up Hogan, I’m a busy man!” ***
4) Virgil defeats Ted DiBiase to win the Million Dollar Belt when he drills DiBiase’s head into an exposed turnbuckle at 10:53
Scott: The sequel to the feud that started back at the Royal Rumble, and had a non-finish at WrestleMania will have a definitive ending here. One of the most emotionally driven storylines so far culminates with DiBiase officially putting his Million Dollar Belt on the line. Unlike the first match where it was a little more even and Virgil caught the Million Dollar Man off balance, here DiBiase dominates the action over the less experienced former bodyguard. Piper is particularly pushing Virgil as his friend and mentor harder than he did at WrestleMania. We thought we were getting another cheap ending when Sherri cracked Virgil with her purse when he had DiBiase in the Million Dollar Dream. But referee Earl Hebner knew the jig was up and both escorted her out and continued the match. Virgil then took the match over after the restart. They brawl and we get a referee knockdown as he was caught in the action. DiBiase starts to take control and is burying Virgil with suplexes while Bobby rips off a great line about Virgil not putting a boom box on layaway just yet. Piper is exasperated for Virgil but the referee is still down, DiBiase looks to finish Virgil off by undoing a turnbuckle pad, and after berating a half conscious Virgil tries to ram his head into the corner. Virgil reverses and drills DiBiase with the steel ring. After a long time on the ground, Virgil crawls over to the corner and gets the three count. The place goes bonkers and Virgil is the new Million Dollar Champion. The match itself is pretty standard but all the stuff that went with it bumps the grade up. Grade: ***
Justin: When we left Los Angeles, Virgil had defeated his former boss but it was a hollow countout win and him and his buddy Roddy Piper caught a beating after the bell. The feud raged over the summer and Virgil continued to hone his skills and pick up momentum heading to a rematch here. However, this time the stakes were much higher as DiBiase’s prized Million Dollar Title was on the line. The very title that Virgil had protected so many times over the years. DiBiase still has Sherri with him here and I thought it was a good fit and they worked well together in a maniacal, evil way. The pop was pretty loud as Virgil jogged to the ring to his new theme music. Piper was clearly set to be biased here, rooting him on right away, even embracing him before the bell. And Virgil wasted no time, charging in the ring and going right at his former boss. You can already tell the improvement in confidence level here for Virgil since Mania. Virgil was relentless in hounding DiBiase, peppering him with right hands and clotheslines, sending Ted to the floor a couple times to regroup. As DiBiase pulled himself out on the floor, Virgil got a bit too aggressive and tried a wild dive over the top, but Ted moved and Virgil ate the mat. Back inside, DiBiase went to work with usual swagger, unloading his standard offense to rattle Virgil. DiBiase was so good at showing his disdain while beating someone up, it really adds to the heat of the match. Virgil would rally back and hook the Million Dollar Dream in, but that drew Sherri into the ring to hammer Virgil with her purse, seemingly drawing a DQ. However, just when it looked like Virgil was screwed, it was announced that the referee was allowing the bout to continue while also kicking Sherri out of ringside. Nice, welcome Dusty Finish there instead of the reverse that we usually get. Virgil came back with another flurry, but that ended when DiBiase reversed a whip and sent him flying into the referee. Piper continued to shout pep talks to his buddy as DiBiase worked him over with suplexes and a piledriver. With Hebner still down, DiBiase removed the turnbuckle pad, but it backfired when Virgil reversed momentum and ran Ted into it instead. After slowly gathering his bearings, Virgil crawled over, covered and scored the huge win to a great pop. Virgil’s celebration was fantastic and the victory was a nice payoff to a long brewing angle. The match was super basic, but well worked and lots of fun and gave the show a guaranteed feel good moment. Grade: ***
5) Big Boss Man defeats the Mountie in a Jailhouse Match with a spinebuster at 8:38
Fun Fact: This feud began back in April when the Mountie claimed to be the only legitimate law enforcer in the WWF. At the 4/22/91 MSG show, the Mountie was questioned by Lord Alfred Hayes prior to his match with the Boss Man whether he had any lawful authority in the United States. The Mountie claimed that he had jurisdiction in the WWF and he was going to prove that the Big Boss Man was nothing more than a “hick cop”. They would feud on TV and house shows for months leading to this match, including one incident where Mountie and the Nasty Boys handcuffed Boss Man to the ropes and zapped him with the shock stick.
Scott: The minute we saw the Mountie debut at the Royal Rumble, you knew this feud was going to happen. The two faces of law and order in the WWF collide here, with the loser spending the night in the Gotham Pokey. Boss Man has had easily the best year of his career in 1991 and after vanquishing the Heenan Family he tries to wipe out Canada’s crooked Mountie. Spending the past few months stabbing jobbers with his shock stick, Mountie wants to eliminate the competition. Gorilla and Piper spout every terrible cliché during this match while Bobby keeps mentioning “bribing the screws with cigarettes”. The match is common Federation fare as the Mountie dominates most of the action until Boss Man makes the big comeback and gets the victory. It continues Boss Man’s great year and for the rest of the show we see Mountie getting abused and embarrassed by the NYPD. For the second straight match, the build and the surrounding storytelling bumps the grade up for a very standard match. Grade: **1/2
Justin: This was a super obvious feud from the moment Mountie debuted, so it was no surprise they went to it right after Mania. It was jumpstarted with a fun Superstars segment where Mountie and the Nasties zapped Boss Man after cuffing him to the ropes. Mountie’s prematch promo was pretty good and he has really started to show some personality and getting more mouthy since his early days in the gimmick. I like it. Of course, the stipulation here is also very fitting as the loser would be spending the night in the hoosegow. Boss Man hit some big offense early, rocking Mountie with an uppercut and then dropping a big splash for a near fall. Boss Man’s speed was on display as well as he quickly bounded around the ring to keep Mountie off balance. Mountie went to the eyes to stop Boss Man, but he got caught coming off the middle rope and planted with a spinebuster. Some Jimmy Hart distraction would finally give Mountie control, as he was able to shove Boss Man into the steel steps while he was stalking the Mouth. Mountie really didn’t have much in the arsenal as he pretty much just slings Boss Man from corner and corner while mixing in basic moves like bodyslams and strikes. He would finally up the ante by spiking Boss Man with a solid piledriver, but he doesn’t cover and went for the shock stick instead. Boss Man would dodge the zapping and rally to a comeback, smacking Mountie with another uppercut before hitting the Boss Man Slam for a really close near fall. Mountie caught Boss Man and went for another piledriver, but Boss Man blocked it, hoisted Mountie up and spiked him with a stiff Alabama Slam for the victory. That was a really good finish to a decent brawl, but really was nothing special until the closing moments. The NYPD would hustle down and cuff Mountie before dragging him off and tossing him into the paddy-wagon to set the stage for his night of fun. Grade: **
*** After a series of interviews and an intermission, we head to the local precinct, where Mountie is dragged through the halls and booked in for the night, including getting his picture taken and his fingerprints stamped. ***
6) The Legion of Doom defeat the Nasty Boys in a No Disqualification match to win WWF Tag Team Titles when Animal pins Jerry Sags with the Doomsday Device at 7:46
Fun Fact: Just to reference the “trifecta”, The Road Warriors defeated Baron Von Raschke & the Crusher to win the AWA Tag Team titles on August 25, 1984. They defeated the Midnight Express to win the NWA Tag Team Titles on October 29, 1988.
Scott: Our tag title match is a historical moment for one of the greatest tag teams of all time. The Nasty Boys ended the career of the Hart Foundation at WrestleMania, but truthfully they were just belt warmers for the team that many thought the WWF would never sign. After three years of Demolition dominating the tag team scene and being called “Road Warriors knock-offs” by some, Vince finally was able to sign the real thing. They won the AWA Tag Team Titles, then the NWA Tag Team Title, and now only one pair of straps left to be conquered. They were smart to make this match a No Disqualification stipulation because you won’t find two better brawling teams in North America. I expected the match to be a little longer but maybe they didn’t want to expose these guys more than they had to be. The other reason is that we have a huge chunk of this show to a non-match segment so all matches got cut down a bit (except for Bret/Perfect, but you wouldn’t want to cut that). After some back and forth the LOD hit the Doomsday Device, my favorite tag team finisher ever, and the Triple Crown of Tag Titles is complete. One of my favorite moments as a wrestling fan, the LOD rock the Garden and make history in a fun tag team match. Grade: **1/2
Justin: In what has been a pretty foregone conclusion since they debuted the year before, the Legion of Doom were finally set up for a tag title match with the champions. The Nasties have had a solid little run over the summer, but they were entering into this defense as clear underdogs regardless of their momentum. The match has No DQ rules, so you would expect it to be a wild brawl heading in. And it looked like we were headed that way off the bell as the Nasties jumped the challengers before they could even get their spikes off. LOD would run them off and take the fight right back to them on the floor. Back in the ring, Animal smashed Knobbs with a powerbomb (!) for a near fall. I feel it was really around this time that the classic era of WWF tag teams came to an end. We have a whole new group of teams in the mix especially at the top of the division, and all of the old standbys have faded away or would be gone soon. It was a true new era in the division. All four men would brawl a bit in the ring before the referee gained some order and this turned into a standard tag setup. I always thought that was odd. It was No DQ, so why would either team adhere to the referee and head to the apron? The match spilled back outside, where Sags slammed a concession worker’s drink tray on the back of Hawk. The Nasties continued to work him over, continuously baiting Animal into the ring so they could work over Hawk. Again, the No DQ thing. After Knobbs splashed Hawk in the corner, Sags came off the top with a big elbow, but Animal made the save. Knobbs would also try to come off the ropes, but he ate a Hawk boot, which was followed by the hot tag to Animal. Things broke down again, highlighted by the Nasties bashing Animal with Hart’s motorcycle helmet for a near fall. Hawk would charge over and smack Jimmy, grab the helmet, bash Sags and then finish him off with the Doomsday Device for the title change. Well, most of that match was absolutely nothing but the last 30 seconds was pretty hot and the crowd loved it. I still don’t get why they bothered with the stipulation and pretty much had a straight up match, but I digress. The LOD complete the Triple Crown and ascend to the top of the WWF mountain, which was absolutely the right decision for the division at this point. What a rush, indeed. Grade: *1/2
*** Back at the clink, Mountie is tossed in a cell, screaming and begging for freedom the entire time. ***
7) Irwin R. Schyster defeats Greg Valentine with a small package at 7:09
Fun Fact I: Irwin R. Schyster is a repackaged Mike Rotundo, who’s making his first PPV appearance since the inaugural WrestleMania. Rotundo had been in NWA/WCW as a member of the Varsity Club and in other…interesting…roles.
Fun Fact II: This is Greg Valentine’s final PPV singles match. His record is 4-16. He was 0-5 at the Royal Rumble, 2-5 at WrestleMania, 0-2 at SummerSlam and 2-2 at Survivor Series. He will appear in two more Royal Rumbles.
Scott: We slip in a debut on this loaded show with a returning superstar from the old days. Mike Rotundo is a former Tag Team Champion who left for the NWA and had a successful run in Kevin Sullivan’s Varsity Club as World TV Champion. Unlike Barry Windham, who walked out with no notice in 1985 and never got a decent WWF gimmick again, Rotundo worked his dates and returned with a solid mid-card heel gimmick. The evil IRS, who wants all tax cheats to pay, even if you did. His opponent is a guy he knows well. We turn the clock back to 1985 and it was Valentine’s Dream Team that defeated Rotundo’s US Express to win the Tag Titles. Six years later and they meet in the ring again and of course no one mentions it. On a side note, we know the real life story that Piper was somewhat orphaned as a kid and Bobby keeps needling him about his parents never coming home. That’s odd. Wonder if there was any heat there. The match ends when IRS reversed a Valentine Figure Four attempt into a small package for the victory. The match is forgettable, but the character of IRS never will be. Grade: **
Justin: We have one more stop before our giant main event and it features the PPV debut of a very memorable character in IRS. Mike Rotundo last competed in PPV back in 1985, a show coincidentally also in Madison Square Garden. He jumped back to the company from WCW earlier in the year and adopted the IRS gimmick, immediately building heat with crowds thanks to his promos about tax collection. Greg Valentine continues his renaissance year with his second straight PPV singles bout. On paper, this one looked pretty good with two veterans locking horns. Valentine worked IRS over, but IRS kept bailing to the floor to regroup and frustrate the Hammer. During one of his trips to the floor, Gorilla notes that he heard rumors that Jake Roberts and Undertaker were spotted in the building. Hammer really took the fight to the Taxman here, finally following him outside and decking him with right hands. However, as they headed back in, IRS was able to wrest control away, going right to his abdominal stretch to wear the Hammer down. Hammer battled back but missed an elbow drop and ate a nice flying lariat. IRS would work the back a bit, hitting a backbreaker before getting caught up top and slammed to the mat. Hammer would get the figure four, but IRS would get the ropes to break it up. Hammer stayed focused on the leg, nailing a shinbreaker and winding himself up. However, as he started to hook it in, IRS reached up and pulled him into a small package to steal the win. This was decent stuff for the most part and a nice win for IRS in his PPV return. The Hammer continues to do the right thing in putting over all the new hot heels. Grade: *1/2
8) Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior defeat Sergeant Slaughter, General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa when Hogan pins Slaughter with a leg drop at 12:39
Fun Fact I: The special referee for this one is a big debut. Sid Justice is more well-known in wrestling circles as Sid Vicious. Named after the former bassist for the Sex Pistols, Vicious is a cult favorite among fans. He spent most of his early career in Alabama and Memphis as “Lord Humongous” in the House of Humperdink. He then went to NWA/WCW and was in a tag team called the Skyscrapers with Dan Spivey. His claim to fame at this point was almost breaking Brian Pillman’s neck in a War Games match earlier in the year. The big storyline heading into the match was whose side Sid would be on.
Fun Fact II: The Iron Sheik returned over the summer as Colonel Mustafa and joined up with Slaughter and Adnan to form the Triangle of Terror.
Fun Fact III: This is Ultimate Warrior’s final WWF match until April 1992. Earlier in the night, he reportedly asked Vince McMahon for more money or else he would refuse to wrestle. As the legend goes, Vince gave in to his demands but then fired him immediately after the match.
Scott: Our main event match is a feud that ended a LONG time ago with added players and another huge debut. The feud between Hogan and Slaughter effectively ended in June when Hogan won a huge Desert Storm match for the title at an MSG house show. So by the end of August, this feud had really crapped out. As for Warrior, he was embroiled in a feud with the freshly minted heel Jake Roberts and his new running buddy, the Undertaker. Jake was already a crazy over babyface but suddenly after those vignettes with Warrior and the snakes he’s become a crazed, awesome heel. The master of psychology has taken it to a new level, so WHY ISN’T HE ON THIS SHOW? In fact the Undertaker isn’t on this show either! Instead we get a tired feud that’s already over and Warrior, who has no dog in the fight in this match either, is shoehorned into it. Everybody was saying that Warrior and Hogan didn’t like each other, and where did that come from? That’s because there was nothing else to this feud anymore. We will note that there is a big debut in this match and that’s Sid Justice. A former Horseman who was one of the “can’t miss” guys that was talked about is in the WWF along with the Legion of Doom. Another character note is Slaughter’s partner Col. Mustafa, who we all know is the Iron Sheik. When Mustafa puts Hogan in the Camel Clutch, Piper says “I remember that happening back in 1983!” The announcers spend most of this match, which does have a Saturday Night’s Main Event feel to it more than a PPV feel, talking about Sid’s neutrality as a referee in the match. Piper is trying plant seeds of doubt along with Bobby into Gorilla’s brain and Gorilla sounds like he’s struggling to keep it down the middle. The match ends in kind of a weird way where Hogan throws powder in Slaughter’s face for the three count. Warrior chases off the others and Justice comes back out to share the spotlight. What we didn’t know is that Warrior was about to be canned by Vince for stiff-arming the boss for more money. We won’t see him again for months. Oh and one small detail I want to mention. Earlier in the show Bobby Heenan had the NWA World Title belt with him and he knocked on Hogan’s dressing room challenging him. Heenan challenging Hogan? Well, not really. The challenge was on behalf of someone else. That person? RIC FLAIR. More on that in the next review. The match is blah as was the feud but things in the WWF landscape are about to change, for the better. Grade: **
Justin: I have never really got this match. I know the early SummerSlam shows were headlined by tag team matches, but I felt they unnecessarily went back to the well here. Warrior had two ready made feuds lined up with Jake Roberts and Undertaker and Hogan had battled Sarge on the house show circuit in some fun Desert Storm bouts. A double main event with Warrior vs. Roberts or Taker and the Desert Storm match would have been a much stronger finish than what we actually get here. One of the matches still could have had Sid as referee too. I guess they wanted Warrior to get some revenge on Sarge, but even with the odds in the Triangle’s favor, nobody really thought they could pull off any sort of win here. The ancient Iron Sheik was dragged back to Stamford and rechristened Colonel Mustafa. And in no way does that make it seem any more likely that Sarge’s team had any chance of winning. They also could have just said farewell to Sarge’s run as a main evener over the summer and ran Hogan and Warrior vs. Jake and Taker, another match that would have had more meaning or curiosity around it. Sarge was pretty dead in the water as a heel threat and it is only red hot MSG crowd that makes them still see like a top heel faction. The rumor heading into the match was that Sarge was recruiting Sid hard and many wondered if he would sell out. Warrior and Hogan both get huge pops, as you would expect.
After some early stalling, Hogan and Sarge kicked things off, with the Champ dominating the action. It was pretty cool seeing Warrior and Hogan tag in and out and work in some double teams. Again, the problem is they are just too strong, making it less believable that they could maybe lose. After Sarge bumped around for a few minutes, Hogan got trapped and Adnan would get his shit offense in, raking Hogan’s back and meekly kicking away at him. Mustafa came in next, reigniting early 1984’s major feud. He would take Hogan over with a decent belly-to-belly before hooking in the Camel Clutch. Warrior would make the save, but the Triangle maintained control. Sarge would try to head up top, but Warrior shoved him off, leading to a hot tag. Warrior would run through Sarge, only getting slowed up when he bumped Sid and the two had a stare down. Mustafa would hit another belly-to-belly, carrying on the second heat segment of the match. I will say it is a testament to the veteran heel ability of all three Triangle members that they were able to build some heat with their teamwork and sneaking around. Warrior came back with a flying clothesline to wipe Sarge out and then crawled over to the make the tag. Everything broke down from there, leading to Warrior chasing off Mustafa and Adnan with a chair. Back in the ring, Hogan tossed powder in Sarge’s face and then dropped the leg for the win. Well, there you go. Warrior vanishes and is gone until April. Hogan and Sid pose in the ring in an attempt to legitimize Sid as an equal Main Event player. The match was really quite bland with some decent heat building tossed in before the quick finish. Grade: **
*** Back to the jail cell, where a biker inmate propositions Mountie, who is losing his mind more and more by the minute. ***
*** The storyline wedding of Randy Savage and Elizabeth takes place in the ring to close the show. In reality they’ve been married since 1985. It was quaint and cute. The real storyline came at the reception that took place after. Let’s backtrack. Over the summer, the Ultimate Warrior was feuding with the Undertaker. Jake Roberts said he would train Warrior to not be afraid of Taker or caskets. So classic vignettes played of Warrior locked in a casket, digging a grave, and locked in a chamber of cobras. In the end it was revealed that Taker and Roberts were in cahoots all along, and Jake officially turned heel for the first time since he arrived in the WWF in 1986. Since Warrior just ran off into the sunset, Jake and Taker needed someone else to torture. The PPV itself ended with the wedding, but the antics from the reception would be shown the following week on WWF TV. While Elizabeth is opening wedding gifts, she takes the lid off a box and out popped a giant cobra. Elizabeth screams and mayhem ensues. All of a sudden, Taker and Roberts crash the party. Taker knocks Savage cold with the urn, and Elizabeth is tortured as Roberts waves the cobra right in front of her. Sid Justice eventually comes out to chase them off. In one fell swoop, Jake Roberts goes from a very over face, to an absolutely awesome psychotic heel. Taker’s aura continues to grow. Maybe Savage’s retirement is short-term after all. This feud only gets better. ***
Scott: This is one of my favorite PPVs of all time. We had endless title changes and some memorable moments, like the title win that skyrocketed Bret Hart’s career and a historic win for Virgil. The LOD complete the trifecta by dispatching the Nasty Boys. The Mountie spends the night in the hoosegow and the MSG crowd, as always, was off the hook. Add all the Ric Flair hints and innuendo and you have one of the greatest PPVs in WWF history. Where did the Ultimate Warrior go? You’ll forget in a month. Feuds ended and stars created, this show had a lot of everything and its one that I can watch over and over again. Final Grade: A
Justin: This show was a whole lot of fun to revisit. There were really a lot of shorter matches on this card, similar to last year. Thankfully for this show, the build, heat and crowd was off the charts for this one, because those factors all covered for some shaky in ring action outside of the first two matches. I felt they left some really over, strong wrestles on the bench, namely Jake Roberts, Undertaker and the Rockers. If you add Roberts and Taker into the Main Event scene, either in singles matches or a giant tag and mix the Rockers in somewhere as well, you really strengthen the card overall. The Rockers had been red hot, so them being left off here was really questionable. Maybe they could have dumped Tornado, added the Rockers and found a fourth man for Team Slick and made that opener an eight man? Either way, the Rockers deserved a spot here. Anyway, that nitpicking aside, this show was a ton of fun to watch with high level blowoffs and a fantastic crowd that was into everything. You also have to factor in all of the historical moments sprinkled in throughout, right down to the Ric Flair stuff and Sid debut, as well as the Savage & Elizabeth wedding, something that was highly anticipated at the time. I can’t say this is the best SummerSlam ever because the ring work was just good at best, but thanks to the IC Title classic and all of the smart booking decisions, historical significance and atmosphere, it ranks highly in the SummerSlam pantheon. Final Grade: A-