Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Summerslam 1991

Mr. Perfect (w/ Coach) vs. Bret “The Hitman” Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

We head back into the World’s Most Famous Arena for the second biggest show of the year and while there was a lot of hype surrounding the main event and the big wedding, one of the more anticipated matches on the undercard was the IC Title match. Perfect has been on a major roll as IC Champion though what was not known to many was that he was also dealing with a back injury, and on the flip side Bret was slowly gaining some steam as a singles star after the Hart Foundation dissolved shortly after Wrestlemania. Even though these two had faced each other a few times in 1989 including at an MSG house show, this was considered a big dream match as many wondered if Bret was going to take the next step or if he was just going to be another challenger that Perfect beats. As I mentioned, it was not too well known that Perfect was dealing with a back injury and was probably going to take some time off after this, but there was just enough doubt that he could retain the title and Bret’s moment would come later.

These two would mainly stay apart from each other on the house shows though they did face off a few times with Bret mainly winning by countout, and on the 7/13 Superstars it was announced Bret would face Perfect for the title at Summerslam. They would continue to stay apart on the house shows while they cut promos on TV with each other putting the other over while vowing to leave MSG with the title. I like how this was a simple build and again the question was whether Bret would finally break through or if Perfect would continue his reign as champion.

Perfect gives a solid interview before the match as he puts Bret over though promises to leave champion, and Bret gets a good pop from the crowd as we see his parents Stu and Helen in the crowd while Perfect was pretty hot as a heel and he taunts Bret with the belt. The two men lock up to start with neither man getting the edge and they lock up again with Bret hooking a headlock, and Perfect whips him off and Bret knocks him down before blocking a hiptoss and he hits one of his own as Perfect rolls outside to regroup. Perfect rolls back into the ring and they lock up with Bret going back to the headlock and Perfect whips him off, and Bret ducks a shot and hooks a crucifix for a two count before taking Perfect to the mat with the headlock. Perfect grabs the hair to try and escape only for Bret to grab the hair and he pulls Perfect back into the headlock, and Perfect tries to whip Bret off again only for Bret to again grab the hair and he hooks the headlock back on. Perfect backs Bret into the ropes and gets a knee in only for Bret to duck a shot and he hits a high crossbody for a two count as Perfect sends him to the outside, and Bret gets on the apron and gets a shoulder in as he hits a slingshot sunset flip for a two count. Bret takes Perfect back to the mat with the headlock as Perfect gets to his feet and backs Bret into the ropes as he gets a shot in, but Bret catches a kick attempt and trips Perfect up before stomping on him and he pounds on him in the corner. Perfect reverses a whip into the other corner and hits a slam only for Bret to kick him to the mat and Bret hits a slam, and Perfect kicks Bret to the mat only for Bret to send Perfect face first into the mat and then he clotheslines him over the top to the floor. Perfect heads up the aisle as Bret goes after him and tears his singlet before throwing him back into the ring, and Perfect stalls in the corner briefly as they lock up with Bret backing Perfect into the corner and Perfect gets a shot in. Perfect kicks at Bret twice as Bret rolls outside to regroup and Coach taunts him by blowing his whistle, and Perfect goes outside and knocks Bret down as he steps on his back and rolls back into the ring. Bret gets on the apron and Perfect knocks him back to the floor as Bret gets on the apron again and Perfect shoves him off the apron into the guardrail, and Bret rolls back into the ring and battles back on Perfect who reverses a whip into the corner. Bret leaps over Perfect and hooks a rollup for a two count as Perfect gets a shot in and he stomps on Bret, and he rams Bret into the buckle and pounds on him in the corner before whipping him hard into the other corner for a two count. He hits a neck snap on Bret and hooks a rollup for a two count as Bret reverses a whip only for Perfect to catch him ducking with a kick, and Perfect hits a standing dropkick that sends Bret to the outside before going outside himself and he pounds on Bret who battles back. Bret gets on the apron and Perfect nails him before pulling him back to the floor and he goes up top, and Bret goes up top as well and they trade blows until Perfect knocks Bret to the mat and he falls to the mat himself as he lands on top of Bret for a two count. He slaps Bret in the face twice in the corner and tosses him to the mat by his hair before hooking a sleeper on, and Bret fights to his feet and breaks the hold only for Perfect to block a second crucifix with a Samoan drop for a two count. He pounds on Bret in the corner and whips him chest first into the other corner for a two count before hitting the Perfect-Plex for a two count, and Bret starts to fire up and hits an atomic drop as he ducks a shot and hits a second atomic drop. Bret hits a headbutt and tosses Perfect to the mat by his hair as Perfect slides crotch first into the post, and Bret hits a suplex for a two count and then he hooks a small package for a two count before hitting a Russian legsweep for a two count. He hits a backbreaker on Perfect and goes up to the middle rope as he drops an elbow on him for a two count, and Bret argues with the ref as Perfect hooks a rollup for a two count and Bret sends him to the outside. Bret goes outside and pounds on Perfect before whipping him into the post and he throws him back into the ring, and he kicks at Perfect’s leg twice and sets up for the Sharpshooter as Coach gets on the apron and Bret knocks him to the floor. Perfect crotches Bret on the ropes and stomps on him before hitting a legdrop to the groin, but Bret blocks a second legdrop and hooks the Sharpshooter on as Perfect submits and we have a new champion. After the match, Perfect tries to leave the ring as Bret grabs at him and he pulls his singlet off as Perfect falls to the floor, and Bret celebrates with the belt before going into the crowd and embracing his parents.

The match itself was great as both men worked hard and put on a great match as you could argue this might be one of the best matches in Summerslam history to this point. Considering how much pain he was probably in at this point, Perfect did a great job in fighting his way through it and he made Bret look great as he puts him over clean. On the flip side, Bret was really coming into his own pretty quickly as a singles star and it was clear they thought of him as a future star by having him win the title here. In addition, the fact that he kicked out of the Perfect-Plex also showed that they had big plans for Bret as he basically kills Perfect’s finisher and then gets a clean win with his finisher. The commentary was great as well as Bobby was rooting for Perfect while also still putting Bret over as Piper was totally pro-Bret and Gorilla called it straight between the two. The crowd was really hot for the whole match and they popped huge for Bret when he won. Bret gets the win over Perfect and is the new IC Champion as Bret moves on and Perfect hits the sidelines to heal his back.

Final Grade: ****1/2