SmarK SummerSlam Countdown: 1991


The SmarK Retro Re-Rant for WWF SummerSlam 1991

Live from Madison Square Garden – Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan & Roddy Piper. If ever there was an announce team that’s a trainwreck waiting to happen, it’s this one.

Ricky Steamboat, Kerry Von Erich & British Bulldog v. Paul Roma, Hercules & Warlord

This is Steamboat’s last WWF PPV appearance, before jumping to WCW and eventually retiring there. (Although he of course briefly un-retired a few years ago.)  This was also during the really fucking stupid period where they had him breathing fire and just referred to him as “The Dragon” so that people would think he’s a real dragon or something. I’m sure the next step would have been Vince selling home fire-breathing kits to the children in the audience, but sadly he left before we got a chance to find out just how big of a lawsuit that would have been. Von Erich was also on the tail end of his WWF career at this point. Steamboat starts with Roma and gets pounded down and dropkicked, but Roma celebrates like he suddenly ceased being a total jobber and walks into an armdrag, as Steamboat starts working the arm. Quick story about Roma to illustrate what a dork he is – during the period in the late 90s where he was attempting a boxing career to make up for being blackballed out of wrestling (and considering the people who have come back to wrestling, think about what a cock you have to be to get exiled from our so-called sport), he would get his manager to e-mail me and try to convince me to say nicer things about him in my WCW rants. I think that’s why I still take such glee at slagging his every stupid career choice today. Sure, some people say that you can’t really blame the total implosion of the Four Horsemen franchise on his involvement, because it wasn’t his choice, but I say those people aren’t trying hard enough. (High five!  Anyone?) Roma misses a charge, and tags out to Herc, who also gets armdragged a bunch. Over to Kerry, who slugs on Hercules in the corner. Warlord comes in for the face off against Bulldog and loses the power match, and a Bulldog suplex gets two. Back to Steamboat, who quickly makes a dumb move and gets caught in the corner. He comes back with a rollup on Roma, but Warlord clotheslines him and Roma adds a suplex for two. See, there he goes again, always taking credit for other people’s previous efforts. Roma gets a backbreaker and Herc comes in to work the back with a press slam. Warlord adds a slam and Roma adds a nice leapfrog onto the back. Steamboat’s comeback is cut short by a stun gun from Hercules, and Warlord keeps pounding the back. He goes up, and it’s Stupid Raised Foot Comeback Spot time, which sets up the hot tag to Tornado. Sunset flip gets two and it’s BONZO GONZO. In the chaos, Steamboat goes up and guess who gets pinned? (Steamboat/Von Erich/Bulldog d. Roma/Hercules/Warlord, Steamboat bodypress – pin Roma, 10:42, ***) This was the standard “warm up the crowd” opener, and Steamboat getting the living shit kicked out of him for 10 minutes is always a safe bet to build sympathy and disguise the weakness in, uh, everyone else in the match. So for those playing at home, yes, Ricky Steamboat CAN carry five other people in one match, and thus may qualify as Superman. (I wish Grant Morrison could reboot him too, and bring him back to my TV again as a young man.)

Intercontinental title: Mr. Perfect v. Bret Hart

Bret hiptosses him out of the ring to start, and grabs a headlock. Crucifix gets two and he maintains a headlock with some well-timed hair-pulling. Crossbody gets two, as does a sunset flip, and he goes back to the headlock. Hennig tries some cheating to turn the tide, but Bret takes him down and stomps him. They trade slams in a nice counter wrestling sequence. Hennig bails off a punch and regroups, but Bret pulls him back in, ripping the tights in the process. A cheapshot puts Perfect in control, however, and a pair of kicks puts Bret on the floor. Hennig steps on his back to get back into the ring, a nice touch. Bret fights back to the apron, so Hennig snaps him into the railing for the Pillman bump. Back in, Bret rolls him up out of the corner for a one-count. Perfect pounds him down again and sends him into the corner for two. Necksnap and rollup get two. Dropkick puts Bret on the floor, and they brawl out there. They fight up to the top and Bret down first, with Perfect falling on top of him for two in a weird spot. Still not sure what happened there. Perfect hairtosses him and grabs a sleeper, but Bret fights out easily. Bret tries another crucifix, but Perfect is onto him now and counters with a samoan drop for two. He sends Bret to the corner for two. Perfectplex gets two, and Bret comes back. Atomic drop both ways and Bret returns the hairtoss, so Perfect takes a great sliding bump into the post. Suplex gets two. Small package gets two. Russian legsweep gets two. Backbreaker and elbow get two. A desperate Perfect rolls him up for two in a hot near-fall, but Bret kicks him out of the ring. Bret starts kicking the crap out of the leg to set up for the Sharpshooter, and Perfect is flipping around like a gymnast to sell it. Bret goes after Coach and gets crotched as a result, and Perfect starts going low in desperation. A legdrop is caught by Bret, however, and he turns it into the Sharpshooter, with Earl Hebner ringing the bell, ringing the fucking bell, very early. (Bret Hart d. Curt Hennig, Sharpshooter — submission, 18:05, ****1/4) Still holds up, except for the botched finish. This was all about Mr. Perfect bringing Bret up to his level and turning him into a legitimate star.  (Yup.  A great match with great drama, although many people now prefer the King of the Ring 93 match instead.  To each their own, both are awesome anyway.)

The Natural Disasters v. The Bushwhackers

Andre the Giant is managing the Whackers, looking on death’s door in the process. This momentous grudge match was set up by Tugboat suddenly realizing what a goober he was and turning on the Bushwhackers for a real career. (Ironically, Quake had put Tugboat out of action one year previous to this, knocking him out of his main event payoff at Summerslam 90.  So he’s not only stupid and clumsy, but very forgiving.)  Butch bites him to start and the Whackers quickly overwhelm the heels with double-teaming. Quake clobbers Butch, however, and the Disasters take over. Quake drops the big fat elbow and Typhoon powers Butch into the corner, and trades off with Quake for a bearhug. Typhoon comes back in with an elbow for two. Hot tag Luke and they take out Quake with a battering ram, but Luke goes splat when left alone with the heels, and that’s all she wrote. (Natural Disasters d. Bushwhackers, Earthquake assdrop — pin Luke Williams, 6:28, *) This was a squash sundae with squash nuts on top and a light coating of chocolate squash sauce. LOD saves Andre from a potential beatdown, which sets up the big program for the fall that led indirectly to the creation of Money Inc. Weird how stuff works, no? – And then, wrestling history trivialized to comedy by those who had no clue just what had been dropped in their laps, as Bobby Heenan knocks on Hulk Hogan’s door…carrying the NWA World title belt. To this day I can’t believe how many ways they flushed this angle down the crapper. I know it doesn’t sound like SUCH a big deal these days, but back then I knew people who were almost ready to start writing up their last will and testament because it was clearly the first sign of the apocalypse and the world would be ending soon.  (And of course the crack WWF legal team lost yet another lawsuit over this, which again makes me wonder how Vince ever escaped the steroid trials without getting a life sentence. How completely incompetent did the government’s prosecution team have to be to not be able to convict VINCE MCMAHON of steroid distribution?!?)

Million Dollar Title: Ted Dibiase v. Virgil

Hard to believe now, but this was quite the hot feud in 1991. (Just ask Virgil next time you see him at a convention!)  Sadly, Dibiase was the only one who could actually carry Virgil to anything watchable. Virgil slugs away to start and clotheslines Dibiase a few times, and another one to put him on the floor. Virgil tries to follow with a pescado, but Dibiase casually sidesteps him and sends him into the stairs. Back in for a clothesline, and the fistdrop gets two. Virgil catches him with his own version of the Million Dollar Dream, which I’m shocked they didn’t call “I Have A Dream” or something equally offensive, and Sherri runs in and waffles him with her loaded purse to break it up. A DQ appears imminent, but instead Sherri goes back to the dressing room and THE MATCH…MUST…CONTINUE! Virgil recovers first and rams Dibiase into the turnbuckles, and slugs away in the corner. Kind of limited in the offense department there. The ref is bumped on the old double whip and Virgil is out, so Dibiase lays the badmouth on Virgil’s mentor, Roddy Piper, and then hits Virgil with a pair of suplexes and a piledriver. Piper’s commentary, as he tries to will Virgil to come back, actually makes the match something pretty special, one of the few times you can say that about him. Dibiase pulls off the turnbuckle and goes for the kill, but Virgil has one last bit of energy and Dibiase eats the steel, and that’s enough for Virgil to roll over and get the pin. (Virgil d. Ted Dibiase, turnbuckle — pin, 10:53, **1/2) The story here was that Virg was 100% out of his league and Dibiase could beat him any time he wanted, but you’ll notice that he still went over, clean as a sheet (well, mostly), because Dibiase went out there and did the job like a pro instead of needing the Russo formula of someone else helping Virgil to win. As a match it was nothing, but the drama and story told were great. (You’ll note that Dibiase doing ONE job extended Virgil’s career by something like 8 years. That’s some impressive fuel economy.)

Jailhouse Match: The Mountie v. Big Bossman

The loser spends the night in jail, and Mountie does a brilliant pre-match promo where he insults the New York police and basically sets up all the ironic abuse that was to come later. Mountie was a wonderfully obnoxious midcard heel, but he just never clicked as a singles worker. And he was given EVERYTHING, too. He had the great gimmick concept, a unique look, a unique weapon to carry around, a catchphrase, a catchy theme song, Jimmy Hart managing him and tons of promo time. But for whatever reason, people just didn’t buy him at that level. (COUGH ALBERTO DEL RIO COUGH) Bossman slugs him down to cut off the trashtalk, and gets a splash for two. He does the sliding punch, but Mountie goes to the eyes, only to walk into a spinebuster. Bossman goes to a neckvice, but stops to chase Jimmy and meets the stairs as a result. Back in, Bossman misses a charge and Mountie drops an elbow for two. Mountie hauls him out to the floor and they fight back into the ring. Mountie gets a piledriver, but stops to gloat about how he is the Mountie (see what I mean about the catchphrase?) and Bossman comes back with another sliding punch. Bossman slam gets two. Mountie trips him and tries another piledriver, but Bossman reverses to the Alabama slam to finish. (Big Bossman d. Mountie, whiplash slam — pin, 8:38, **) This was your basic Superstars main event, slow and not very interesting. However, it’s all just leading up to the big joke anyways, as Mountie is hauled off in handcuffs, yelling like a baby the whole way. – Intermission time, so we get promos from Ted Dibiase, Bret Hart, The Natural Disasters, Big Bossman, Mountie (being dragged into the jail), The Nasty Boys, Mountie again (getting photographed), the Legion of Doom, Mountie a third time (getting fingerprinted), Sgt. Slaughter, and finally Sid.

WWF Tag titles: The Nasty Boys v. The Legion of Doom

Big brawl to start and the Nasties get tossed. This is no DQ or countout. Animal powerbombs Knobs for two early on, but Sags saves. Hawk hits him with an enzuigiri and follows with a shoulderblock for two, but Knobs saves. Hawk slugs away on both guys, but Sags sprays him in the eyes with what I presume is mace, but maybe it’s Axe body spray, who knows. (This is clearly preposterous.  Not only that Axe wasn’t invented back then, but that Sags would know how to use deodorant.)  Sags follows with a drink tray and Hawk is face in peril. Back in the ring, the Nasties get a double elbow and work him over in the corner. Hawk bails, so Sags rams him in the stairs and Knobs follows with a double axehandle from the apron. Back in, they work him over in the corner and Knobs gets two. Stinger splash by Knobs sets up the SHITTY ELBOW OF DOOM from Sags, which gets two. Knobs jumps on Hawk’s upraised foot, and it’s hot tag Animal. Punches abound. Powerslam gets two on Knobs. It’s BONZO GONZO and the Nasties beat down Animal with the motorcycle helmet, which gets two for Knobs. Hawk steals the helmet, pounds both Nasties with it, and the Doomsday Device is academic. (LOD d. Nasty Boys, Animal Doomsday Device — pin Sags, 7:41, *) Way too short, and it never felt like the challengers were in any jeopardy. Really, given the buildup it should have been more like the ECW-style tag matches that the Nasties would have in WCW, or at least a Texas Tornado match, instead of the more low-key affair that it was. – Back in jail, the Mountie still isn’t dealing with it very well.

IRS v. Greg Valentine

They trade headlocks to start, and Hammer overpowers him, following with a clothesline to the floor. Back in, sunset flip gets two for Valentine. IRS bails again, but catches him with a cheapshot on the way in, and gets the abdominal stretch. Lariat and elbow get two. IRS goes up, but gets slammed off, and Greg works the knee and sets up the figure-four. IRS makes the ropes and Valentine tries again, but it’s reversed to an inside cradle for the pin. (IRS d. Greg Valentine, inside cradle — pin, 7:05, *1/2) Again, nothing you wouldn’t normally see on Saturday morning syndicated TV or anything.

Hulk Hogan & Ultimate Warrior v. Sgt. Slaughter, Gen. Adnan & Col. Mustafa

It’s too bad that Iron Sheik didn’t become truly entertaining until well after retirement, because “Colonel Mustafa” is a pretty boring-ass gimmick. Truly, my dream is to someday stage a political debate between Ultimate Warrior and Iron Sheik, hosted on YouTube of course, and then watch the money roll in. Never mind getting Warrior to wrestle again, the key to making money off him is to properly exploit his insanity. Plus it’ll be great when Sheik threatens to humble him by fucking him up the ass, and Warrior responds that queering don’t make the world work. And then Hogan can try to run in and break things up, but Verne Gagne will pay Sheik $25,000 to break his legs. I’ll make MILLIONS! Slaughter pounds on Hogan to start, but gets whipped into the corner. Hogan and Warrior pinball him, and Warrior comes in with an atomic drop, setting up Hogan’s big boot. Dig that tag team continuity. Hogan whips him into the post for two. Warrior sends Slaughter into Hogan’s boot for two. Corner clothesline and Hulk chokes away, so Sid Justice gets his ref on. Hogan gets caught in the mid-east corner and Adnan uses the fingernails on him. So that’s where Hogan got it from. Mustafa with the gut wrench and camel clutch, and Gorilla is all “Where have we seen this before?”, but Warrior breaks it up before he can actually acknowledge a previous gimmick. (It has since been clarified that Mustafa was in fact connected with Iron Sheik a few times on WWF TV before this, although I would again like to stress that I don’t remember it happening at the time.)  Slaughter gets a backbreaker for two. Hogan stops to give Sid some attitude, so Sarge clobbers him from behind and goes up, only to be foiled by Warrior. Man, when you’re getting outsmarted by that guy, you’re in trouble. Warrior comes in with clotheslines, but gets pounded down by Slaughter. The heels work him over in the corner, but Warrior reverses a suplex on Mustafa. Slaughter chokes him down, but Warrior bounces back with a clothesline and makes the hot tag to Hulk, then chases the other heels to the dressing room and doesn’t return for another 8 months. That’s some parking garage. Hulk up, yada yada blah blah blah. (Hogan & Warrior d. Slaughter, Adnan & Mustafa, Hogan legdrop — pin Slaughter, 12:38, **) C’mon, who really bought anyone on the heel side as a threat to either of the faces? The reasons for Warrior’s departure here differ depending on whose DVD you’re watching, but suffice it to say it was very political and money was involved.

However, fake main event aside, the real draw was the (fake) wedding of Randy Savage & Elizabeth, as they renew their (real) vows in a desperate (failed) attempt to save their marriage. This leads to the reception, where Jake Roberts and the Undertaker play Wedding Crashers and attack Savage with a snake to set up the fall’s hottest program. The Pulse: Wrestling-wise, it was a mid-level Summerslam, with only one classic match, but the booking was excellent most of the way and it’s a very watchable show overall. Recommended.  (Yup.  I actually owned the original Coliseum video that I bought from a video store previously viewed, and during a period in 92 when we moved into a new house and we were waiting for cable to get hooked up I probably watched this show 20 times because I only had it, Batman, and Wayne’s World on VHS to choose from.  And I never really got sick of it.  Now of course my ridiculous 2000+ disc DVD collection has multiplied past the point where I could even watch all of them in one lifetime, not to mention the duplicates on Blu-Ray and everything I can choose from on Netflix, but everything starts somewhere.)