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.
In this edition, SummerSlam goes across the pond!
SummerSlam 1992 – August 29, 1992 (recorded), August 31, 1992 (aired), Wembley Stadium, London, England
Man, imagine recording a pay-per-view two days before it airs with few spoilers getting out in this day and age. I honestly don’t think I realized it was a taped show until reading it in a magazine months later. To be fair, I was a pretty dumb kid at the time.
This is the first SummerSlam without Hulk Hogan, but not yet out of the Hogan era in the WWF, since he would be back in a few months to retake the WWF Title at WrestleMania IX. The event was built on the rematch between Ultimate Warrior and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, this time for Savage’s WWF Title. As an added wrinkle to the match, former champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and his manager Mr. Perfect were teasing involvement in the match. That involvement was a smokescreen to cause Savage to lose by countout and set up a rematch for Flair, who regained the WWF Title at a television taping just three days after this event (one day after it aired).
Once again, Savage and Warrior had a great match that you wouldn’t normally expect to see out of the Warrior. Original plans reportedly had Warrior winning the title by turning heel at the show, but he balked at the plans, causing the screwy finish (and likely the Flair title win). That’s OK, since Warrior would once again be gone from the WWF by the time Survivor Series rolled around, despite being advertised in the main event there, too.
Best Match: Davey Boy Smith defeated Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) – Intercontinental Title Match. Shocking, I know. The shine of this match has been somewhat dulled by Hart’s recounting, telling everyone that he carried the British Bulldog, leading a drugged-out Smith through the match basically by his coke-filled nose. Still, it’s a fantastic match and the best on an otherwise lackluster show. The match was built around the family drama of two brothers-in-law going head-to head. Since the show was in England, you would think that Smith would be the face, but the British Bulldog’s pre-match interview and actions inside the ring really made him come off as a heel, to me anyway.
Of course, according to the kid in the opening of the show, “The British Bulldog is going to win whether he wants to or not.” Yes, young one, that’s how professional wrestling works.
Smith may have won the match, but it was really a coming-out party for Hart, who would be the WWF champion within a few months.
Worst Match: Nailz defeated Virgil. I would argue that this is the worst SummerSlam match ever up to this point. Nailz was garbage. Virgil was garbage and this 4 minute match went on about 3 and a half minutes too long.
Better Than It Should Have Been: It’s rare you have a comedy match with the quality of Shawn Michaels vs. Rick Martel. With both men flirting with Michaels’ manager Sensational Sherri, and the added stipulation of “No Punches To The Face,” the workrate in the match took a backseat to the story. And that’s fine, because everyone involved surprisingly made the whole thing work. Even announcers Vince McMahon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan were on point, commenting on Sherri’s revealing outfit. For example:
McMahon: “There’s a part of Sherri’s outfit missing, I believe. Yes, there is. That’s too bad.”
Heenan: “Worst case of moths I’ve seen in my life!”
Heenan: “Listen to all the people singing Moon Over Miami!”
Once the match devolved into a comedy segment, the facial expressions and movements by both Michaels and Martel were just spot-on and it made the match more enjoyable than it had any right to be.
Demolition 2.0 Explodes: It wasn’t advertised that way, but the match between Crush and Repo Man was a battle of former tag team partners. Repo Man was the new identity for Barry Darsow, better known as Demolition Smash. And Crush, surprisingly, was the third member of Demolition, Crush, brought in when Ax was unable to get in the ring regularly. He didn’t bother changing his name, just put on some orange and purple tights and started saying “Brah!” a lot. Crush wins in a 5-minute squash.
Evidence of Things Not Seen: The original card at Wembley featured three matches that weren’t seen on the American pay-per-view broadcast: The Bushwhackers and Jim Duggan vs. The Nasty Boys and The Mountie; Papa Shango vs. El Matador (the pair would have a dark match rematch at WrestleMania IX); and Tatanka vs. The Berzerker. I don’t think we missed anything…
The Ol’ Bait And Switch: SummerSlam 1992 was originally advertised with a Tag Team Title Match between champions Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster, otherwise known as I.R.S.) and challengers the Legion of Doom, with their manager Paul Ellering and spirit puppet Rocco (as seen in the poster above). But then, Money Inc. lost the tag team titles to Earthquake and Typhoon, so the Natural Disasters match against the Beverly Brothers became a title match. The Tag Team Title scene in 1992 WWF was abysmal, and wouldn’t really improve until the Steiner Brothers showed up in January. But even then, it continued to be a dark time for tag teams in a promotion that used to have a wealth of them.
The SummerSlam Top Ten!
I’m likely going to get some hate here, since I put the Intercontinental Title main event in the No. 2 slot and not the No. 1 spot, but watching these shows back-to-back, I enjoyed the 1991 IC Title match a lot more than the one in 1992. Still, Mr. The SummerSlam Bret Hart continues his tear through the Top Ten, taking the first four spots. MVP runner-up Ultimate Warrior surprisingly now has THREE matches in the Top Ten.
*DISCLAIMER* The Top Ten is for discussion purposes only and is in no way an official or authoritative list. It is simply my opinion. If you disagree, leave your thoughts in the comments section.
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart defeated Mr. Perfect (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1991)
2 – Davey Boy Smith defeated Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1992)
3 – Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard defeated the Hart Foundation (1989)
4 – The Hart Foundation defeated Demolition (c) – 2-out-of-3 Falls Tag Team Title Match (1990)
5 – Ultimate Warrior defeated “Ravishing” Rick Rude (c) – Intercontinental Title Match(1989)
6 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan defeated Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant (1988)
7 – Ultimate Warrior defeated Honky Tonk Man (c) – Intercontinental Title Match (1988)
8 – Ultimate Warrior beat “Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) by countout – WWF Title Match (1992)
9 – Big Bossman defeated The Mountie – Jailhouse Match (1991)
10 – Hulk Hogan and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake defeated “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Zeus (1989)