SummerFest Countdown: 1992

The Netcop Retro Rant for Summerslam 92 (I thought I had redone this one more recently than this rant appears to represent.  Could also be senility setting in.)  Live from Jolly Ol’ England (Not originally.  It was supposed to be in Washington DC, headlined by the first ever ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart to get the belt onto Shawn, up until surprisingly close to the show.)  Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Bobby Heenan This was, it should be noted, the first PPV event shown in Edmonton, so this was a big one for me, personally speaking. (Back when PPV was “only” $25 a pop and less of a big hit on the cable bill.  Also back when you actually had to call into the cable company and talk to someone to physically order the show, too.)  Opening match: The Legion of Doom v. Money Inc. Paul Ellering is at ringside for the LOD…with Rocco. Can’t forget Rocco. If you don’t know what Rocco is, you don’t want to, believe me. Dibiase is wearing his KICKASS alternate white outfit. (He should have worn that one way more often.  He’d be World champion two or three times over if he had.)  LOD dominates Dibiase and…oh, hell, I can’t resist: See, LOD was getting stale, so Vince decided to bring back Paul Ellering at WM8. And everyone was like “Hey, there’s no way he can possibly screw up something THAT easy, right?” Well, a couple of weeks later, the LOD began doing vignettes from the mean streets of Chicago, talking about “losing their inspiration” and reminiscing about their childhood. But luckily, when they were in a junkyard, they found their prized…ventriloquist’s dummy? Yes, it was Rocco, and Paul Ellering began bringing it to ringside and doing a really bad ventriloquism act during matches. This was A-Level, brilliant stuff, no? Anyway, this match sucks. Even Dibiase can’t work miracles. Besides, he wasn’t born again until about 1996. (High five!  Anyone?)  Hawk plays Ricky Morton (if Ricky Morton didn’t learn how to sell properly). I think Ted Dibiase should have been brought in as the mouthpiece for the Revolution instead of Shane “Hey, remember when I quit in 1993 and no one could tell?” Douglas. Animal gets the hot tag and they go for the Doomsday Device, but IRS dropkicks Animal to break it up. Dibiase takes a powerslam for the pin at 11:58 to render the previous sequence pointless, much like the match. LOD bailed for Japan very soon after this. 1/2*  (I actually upgraded this to *** on the Road Warriors DVD.  It’s a really good opener, just before the LOD imploded and Hawk went off to join the Hell’s Angels for a while.)  Ric Flair plays mindgames with Mean Gene, ducking the “Which corner will Mr. Perfect” be in question. His final answer: “Why, Mr. Perfect is in the dressing room of the winner!” Virgil v. Nailz. Okay, so Nailz was brought in as Big Bossman’s nemesis, a convict who Bossman treated too roughly during his prison guard days and has now returned for revenge. The obvious ethical ramifications of America’s prison system allowing a man as obviously psychotic as Nailz free (after he cut a promo, FROM PRISON, about how he wanted to basically kill the Bossman) were never covered.  (If Sideshow Bob has taught us anything, it’s that anyone can get out and run for mayor.)  But then we didn’t have Russo and Ferreira to look out for us back then. So Nailz, uh, destroys Virgil and…well…there’s really no finish for this thought. Nailz wins with the choke sleeper at 3:16 (hmmm…), thus giving the only instance of a wrestler who had a resthold for a finisher. DUD Did the “902714” on his coveralls (representing his prisoner number) have any “smart” double meaning, or was it just a random number, I wonder? (Tune into Nitro to find out!  I dunno if I was doing that punchline then, but I should have here.)  Shawn Michaels v. Rick Martel. Special stipulation: No hitting in the face. No, really, Sensational Sherri was in love with both guys at the time, so she had it written into the contract. Shawn gets a surprisingly big pop upon his entrance. Wow. Sherri is dressed like Chyna does today, except in white. (As a pornographic She-Hulk parody?) Martel plays headgames with Shawn to start, moving out of the way of Shawn’s offense. We go into a unique wristlock sequence, as they pull each other’s hair multiple times and tease a shot to the face several times in retribution. Shawn takes his first bump and lands face-first on the floor. Martel takes the opportunity to seduce Sherri, then beats on Shawn some more. What a man’s man. Another funny sequence as they do a series of rollup-reversals, with each man getting the count broken up twice due to the ref seeing them pull the tights. Sweet chin music gets two. This match is far better with the “no punching” stip. Shawn gets a Ric Flair pin attempt for two. Martel rolls him up (and pulls the tights) for two. Finally Michaels and Martel flip out and knuckle up. This causes Sherri to “faint”, and take a nice bump to the floor. The men take turns trying to revive her, and get into a fight over *that*. They go back to the dressing room for a double-DQ, ignoring Sherri, who of course was faking. Michaels dumped Sherri and won the IC title a couple of weeks later. *** Shawn heads back to the ring and carries Sherri, but Martel knocks them down and HE carries her back. Sherri is taking some great bumps here. Shawn regains Sherri again, prompting Martel to grab a bucket of water from the dressing room and dump it on Sherri to revive her. And ruin her dress. Match ran 7:16, plus another 4 minutes of extracurricular activities.  (Sadly this ended up going nowhere, as Sherri left for WCW soon after getting dumped by Shawn.)  WWF World tag team title: The Natural Disasters v. The Beverly Brothers. Poffo messes up his poem, so it’s edited on the Coliseum tape. (I haven’t watched the Anthology version yet, but I assume the error is left intact there.)  That reminds me – is there a hyphen in “anal retentive”? (I put that one in there specifically to annoy my roommate, in case you’re wondering.)  Being a Destruction Crew mark from the start, I was strongly pulling for the challengers here. The champs use their enormous fat advantage to toss the Beverlys around. Blake almost manages to slam Typhoon, but of course he’s JUST TOO FAT. Quake misses an avalanche and Typhoon gets turned into Shockmaster-in-peril. Hold on, this is just in: Shawn Michaels has left Wembley Stadium. Okay, we’re back. Beverlys do some nice stuff, but mostly cheap heel tactics. And not very exciting ones, either. After two false tags to Quake, the Beverlys get Lanny Poffo’s SCROLL OF DOOM and nail Typhoon. Quake makes the save before the count and Quake gets the hot tag. This time the avalanche hits, and he follows with the butt splash for the pin at 10:17 to keep the titles. 1/2* for the Beverlys’ stuff. Crush v. Repo Man. It’s the battle of Demolition! And of course, Crush is current nWo B-team goof Bryan Adams and possible KISS demon. (RIP.  Although he never ended up as the KISS Demon, since Dale Torberg got that prestigious gig instead.)  Repo Man is jobber Barry Darsow, aka Smash. This was the initial singles push for Crush, and he’s pretty over. Total squash for Crush to begin with, but a POKE IN THE EYES OF DOOM turns the tide…for about 5 seconds. Crush quickly hits a belly-to-belly, but misses a kneedrop. Match appears to be clipped on the Coliseum video version here. A very well done one, but a clip nonetheless. Repo controls for a bit, but gets caught with a powerslam coming off the top and is done in by the HEAD SQUEEZE OF DEATH at 4:01 for the submission. If in doubt, go to the PWI Almanac, so I do so and find out that the match actually ran 5:41. So it was 90 seconds cut out. (Dammit, now I HAVE to watch the Anthology version to get the full epic!)  Review of the awesome Warrior-Savage buildup, as Ric Flair plays both sides and makes everyone think that either Savage or Warrior has been bought off by Mr. Perfect. This leads to Warrior and Savage doing the “partners who distrust each other thing” and causes them a loss to the Nasty Boys as a result. And with that, we go to… WWF World title match: Randy Savage v. The Ultimate Warrior. Neither man has Mr. Perfect in their corner…to begin with. Just to give you an idea, the intrigue for the “Who Sold Out?” storyline was up there in heat level with the Greater Power. (And the payoff was just as good!)  My poor TV screen can’t take too many of these matches, because of the incredibly garish ring robes involved. At least Ric Flair had the decency to pick a color scheme and stick to it. We do a distrustful handshake to start. Crowd is incredibly hot, alternating chants for both guys. Savage acts pretty heelish to start, drawing even more heat for Warrior. Savage controls with his usual quickly in, but gets caught coming off the top and is atomic dropped by Warrior twice and clotheslined for two. Savage comes back with a kneedrop for two, to heel heat. Warrior comes back with stomps and a clothesline for two, but Savage botches a leverage move, then hits it for real and slingshots Warrior into the corner to come back. He clotheslines Warrior to the floor and the crowd does not approve. Back in for a double-axehandle, but Warrior no-sells. Another one gets two, Warrior won’t stay down. A third, but Warrior catches him coming down and hits a backbreaker for two. Warrior goes on offense, but he seems blown up already. For those who have asked me in the past, “blown up” refers to a wrestler who uses up all his energy in the first few minutes and then ends up sucking wind for the remainder. Bearhug-slam thing gets two, then a side slam gets two. Savage hits a small package out of nowhere for two. Warrior puts his head down on a whip, however, and Savage hits a spinning neckbreaker for two. Warrior fights out of a suplex and sells a neck injury, quite well actually. He fights for a suplex and gets two. He rolls out to the floor and Savage follows him down with a double-axehandle from the top. Savage tosses Warrior into the ringpost, then tosses him in for a two count. And now Mr. Perfect (in a tux) and Ric Flair make their way down. Savage gets a sunset flip for two and Warrior hits a clothesline for two. The BIG SPLASH OF HORROR hits the knees and Savage gets two. Double-KO spot as the announcers speculate on who sold out. Savage gets two, then Perfect trips him coming off the ropes, so Warrior sold out, right? Savage offers words to Flair and Perfect, giving Warrior time to recover and nail Savage. Ref gets bumped, Warrior gets the press slam for two. Ref recovers, then gets bumped AGAIN, and Savage hits a nasty piledriver. Perfect revives Warrior as Savage revives the official…then Flair and Perfect turn on Warrior! So now the announcers speculate that SAVAGE sold out. I’m so confused. (Shades of grey!  Fifty of them!) Savage goes for the flying elbow, but Warrior kicks out at two. Or, in Vince-speak, 1-2-3 he got him, no he didn’t, c’mon ref! Warrior hulks up and goes through his finishing sequence on Savage, but Flair nails him with a chair coming off the ropes when he goes for the big splash. Savage goes for the kill…then realizes he couldn’t have possibly done that much damage on his own. He goes for the elbow anyhow, then changes his mind and goes after Flair. Sorry, pal, Flair is smarter than that, and nails Savage with his handy chair on the way down. Savage is counted out at 25:20. Like vultures, Flair and Perfect swoop in and destroy Savage. Warrior chases them off with a chair, and Warrior and Savage do the male bonding thing. ***1/2 Not as freakin’ great as their WM7 classic, but still a really good match. Last I heard, Warrior was booked to win the title and turn heel here (thus justifying the mid-card position of the match, so as not to send the fans home pissed off) but Warrior got all weird (what a surprise) and the booking was changed at the last minute. (Yup.  That story still holds, I believe.)  Kamala v. The Undertaker. UT rides a hearse to ringside, which takes forever. If there was a storyline here, I don’t remember it or care about it. UT goes chop, chop, ropewalk, ropewalk, but Kamala pulls him down. UT doesn’t sell. Kamala clotheslines him to the floor. UT doesn’t sell. Back in the ring and UT chokeslams him, which admittedly looked cool. Flying clothesline and tombstone, but Kim Chee (Steve Lombardi in a mask) runs in for the DQ at 3:46. Kamala destroys UT with three splashes off the top, but UT sits up, causing Kamala to shit himself and run away. Guess how much I loved this match. -** Sean Mooney interviews the British Bulldog about the family pressure for the main event. Man, would THAT ever become amplified as of recent months. (I’m guessing this was written in early 1998.)  Bret Hart retorts with a WHINY-ASS promo about what an ingrate Bulldog is. Man, listening to his “me me me” interviews years later lends a totally new perspective to them. Roddy Piper makes a surprise appearance, playing the bagpipes. Main event, Intercontinental title: Bret Hart v. The British Bulldog. DBS brings Lennox Lewis with him to suck up to the crowd, just in case any of them didn’t know who the babyface was. (Lennox Lewis was a pretty famous Canadian/British boxing champion, for those who don’t speak early 90s.)  Shoving match to start. Bret takes a bump to the floor off a shoulderblock. Back in and they trade side headlock takedowns, and Bret flips out of a slam to roll him up for two. Small package gets two, and Bret goes back to the side headlock. Into a wristlock, and Bulldog flips out and goes into the armbar. Bret comes off the ropes, but gets caught with a slingshot into the corner, and Bulldog goes back to move #929 (ARM-bar). Crucifix gets two, and Bulldog takes him down with a hammerlock. Shots of Diana Hart-Smith are cut in. She was cute in 92, but got really ugly from about 96 on. I’m just saying. Bret escapes and knees DBS in the gut coming off the ropes to take control. He goes into Heel Bastard Mode, dropping a leg and taunting the fans. DBS fights out of a chinlock, but eats an elbow coming off the ropes. Inverse atomic drop is called a “reverse piledriver” by Vince. DBS goes for another crucifix but gets dropped on his back for two. They do a criss-cross sequence and Bulldog hits a monkey-flip to take control, then a pair of cross-corner whips on Bret. He runs into Bret’s foot on the second, however. Bulldog (a nasty one, too) from Bret. How ironic. See, he’s the Bulldog, and he got…oh, never mind. (If you have to explain the joke, it’s not worth telling.  WWE would do well to learn that lesson.)  Bret goes to the top, but gets slammed off. DBS tries it, but Bret moves. Bulldog tries a quick rollup, but Bret ducks down and Bulldog goes flying to the floor. Bret hits an ugly looking pescado. Ouch, he better buy Bulldog a round of drinks after that one. He rams him into the post for good measure. Back in the ring for more punishment, with a series of forearms and a dropkick. I’ve never liked Bret’s dropkick. Bulldog takes an awkward-looking bump on his knee off a backdrop, and Bret goes back to the chinlock. Bret gets the snap suplex for two. Bulldog blocks a forearm with a backslide for two. Bret decks him and hits the elbow off the second rope for two. I like how Bret is actually varying the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM here. Bret hair-tosses DBS, pissing off the crowd. Bret gets a sleeper, and Vince declares the match over. Sure. Smith fights out and presses Bret, but drops him crotch-first on the top rope. He clotheslines him three times for a two count. Military press gets two. The delayed suplex gets a big pop, and a two count. Cross-corner whip gets two. The running powerslam gets two. Davey Boy is perplexed. Bret is dead. Smith shoves him out of the ring, then suplexes him in, but Bret reverses to a german suplex for two. Bret tries a suplex, but Bulldog blocks and superplexes him for two. Whip, reverse, and double-KO spot. Bret maneuvers into position and applies the Sharpshooter, however, drawing screams of horror from the crowd. Bulldog makes the ropes. Bulldog whips and puts his head down, Bret sunset flips him, and Bulldog hooks Bret’s legs for leverage and gets the pin and the Intercontinental title at 25:10. Crowd goes NUTS. Davey’s best match, post-Stampede era. (Which is ironic because Bret went on record several times noting that Davey was blown up minutes into the match and he literally had to carry the entire match himself as a result.)  ***** Smith and Hart reunite the family after the match, despite Bret teasing walking out a couple of times. The Bottom Line: Hey, ya GOTTA see Bret v. Bulldog at least in your life if you’re a real wrestling fan. And Warrior v. Savage is worth a look, too. The rest is crap, but 2 out of whatever isn’t a bad ratio for the WWF. Total wrestling time: A little over 90 minutes. The aftermath was pretty interesting, too, as Warrior was turfed out of the WWF shortly after this and Bret Hart was put on top ahead of the other main eventers. WCW TAKE NOTE. Recommended show.  (Yup, there’s some pretty fun stuff on here, with the largest LEGITIMATE crowd that WWF ever did.)