Since 1988, SummerSlam has been WWE’s second biggest show of the year. As we count down the days to the 2016 edition, the Top Ten will rank the annual event’s matches year-by-year to determine the best SummerSlam matches of all time.
And now, it’s brotherly hate in a cage and double the eerie.
SummerSlam 1994 – August 29, 1994, United Center, Chicago, Illinois.
I’ve always really enjoyed this show, but my enjoyment generally ends right before the main event begins.
Instead of putting the WWF Title Steel Cage match on last, it went second-to-last in favor of the dual Undertakers storyline. The real Undertaker had been away for a while, recovering from losing a casket match against Yokozuna at the Royal Rumble. ‘Taker was taken down by a gang of bad guys and placed in the casket before ascending into the rafters. He was not seen again for months.
Having Ted DiBiase bring “The Undertaker” back to the WWF was a nice call back for those who remembered that DiBiase was the one who originally brought ‘Taker into the organization, but that was probably the only upside to the whole angle. The main event of this show, pitting DiBiase’s “Underfaker,” Brian Lee, against the original was all about spectacle. Unfortunately, the WWF had yet to master the spectacle of the Undertaker just yet.
And if the concept of two Undertakers wasn’t silly enough, the WWF brought in actors Leslie Nielson and George Kennedy – who had great success as a team in the Naked Gun movies (the third had been released that March) – to “solve the mystery” of the two Undertakers. The two bumbled around the United Center making bad puns about being on the case with a briefcase that may or may not have had a contract for a WWF Title shot inside… that’s still to be determined.
It was a better Undertaker match than what we’ve been used to, which isn’t saying much. But it probably shouldn’t have been the main event.
Best Match: Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) defeated Owen Hart – WWF Title Steel Cage Match. This should come as no surprise. The feud between Bret and Owen was the highlight of 1994 and this match was a great cap to the first part of the feud. While there are a number of complaints about bloodless steel cage matches, the Bret-Owen match was a great battle between two brothers, which just happened to be inside of a cage. It’s an easy addition to the pantheon of great Bret Hart SummerSlam matches.
Worst Match: Jeff Jarrett defeated Mabel. Hey, it’s rap vs. country! Really it’s a crappy giant vs. a boring guy who was still trying to find a niche. It’s not a terrible match, but it’s easily the worst of this show and not worth wasting space talking about.
The Rise of the Kliq: Razor Ramon regained the Intercontinental Title here (the sixth Intercontinental Title change in seven shows) with the help of Walter Payton, but the real story of the match was the growing conflict between champion Diesel and former champion Shawn Michaels. When HBK superkicked his former bodyguard here, leading to Ramon’s victory, it was more build to the eventual break-up that happened in November at the Survivor Series. Much like the Bret-Owen feud that defined their careers for years, Michaels and Diesel were intertwined in a story for three years, from Diesel’s debut right up to his last match. It’s a slow burn story that we just don’t see enough of these days.
What A Difference A Year Makes: Last year, Lex Luger was in the main event, he was riding across the country in a bus and he was defending America. But in 1994, Luger was in a midcard match, defending himself against accusations from Tatanka that he joined the Million Dollar Corporation. Despite the majority in the poll WWF provided thinking Luger sold out, it was pretty clear that Tatanka was the one who joined up with DiBiase. Another missed opportunity for Luger to reinvent himself. More importantly, putting Tatanka in with DiBiase’s stable pretty much cemented the group as a joke. Having a strong heel Luger as the centerpiece would have meant something, but Tatanka was just another stale midcard guy at that point, and the Corporation never recovered.
The Women Chime In: There aren’t a lot of classic women’s matches in 1990s WWF, but the battles between Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano usually brought the goods, much like they did here. Nakano was really the only good feud Blayze had in her WWF run, otherwise getting saddled with women who would be considered “freaks” like Bertha Faye and Luna Vachon. No wonder she dumped that title in the garbage the next year…
The SummerSlam Top Ten!
A new number one! And Bret Hart returns to his earlier SummerSlam form.
*DISCLAIMER* The Top Ten is for discussion purposes only and is in no way an official or authoritative list. It is simply my opinion.
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) defeated Owen Hart – WWF Title Steel Cage Match (1994)
2 – Bret “Hitman” Hart defeated Mr. Perfect (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1991)
3 – Davey Boy Smith defeated Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1992)
4 – Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard defeated the Hart Foundation (1989)
5 – The Hart Foundation defeated Demolition (c) – 2-out-of-3 Falls Tag Team Title Match (1990)
6 – Ultimate Warrior defeated “Ravishing” Rick Rude (c) – Intercontinental Title Match(1989)
7 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan defeated Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant (1988)
8 – Ultimate Warrior defeated Honky Tonk Man (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1988)
9 – Ultimate Warrior beat “Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) by countout – WWF Title Match (1992)
10 – Big Bossman defeated The Mountie – Jailhouse Match (1991)