SummerFest Countdown: 1994

The Netcop Retro Rant for Summerslam 94. Well, what do you do when you’ve got 2:40 left until RAW? Watch more wrestling! In this case, you, WrestleLine reader, get a first-run rant instead of the re-runs from the past week. And again tomorrow with Summerslam 95, and probably Thursday with a re-mixed version of 96. Truly, your cup runneth over. Speaking of the WWF, I’m working on the epic King Lear rant for the WWF as we speak. King Lear rant, you say? Wait and see, faithful reader.  (That one ended up being pretty big for me.  Paying attention to Shakespeare in high school sometimes pays off, you whippersnappers! )  You won’t be disappointed. Am I evil, or what? In the meantime… Live from Chicago, IL. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler, who announce that Shawn & Diesel captured the tag team titles the night before.  (Man, speaking of things that ended up changing the business, you wouldn’t think that Shawn & Diesel getting the tag belts would have any longterm effects, but it set off a chain reaction of stuff that led to Nash getting the World title and nearly taking the promotion down with him.)  Opening match: The Headshrinkers v. Bam Bam Bigelow & IRS. This was originally for the tag titles, but the title change from the night before changed that. Could they POSSIBLY have picked a crappier opener than this? (It could have been a SCAFFOLD MATCH!)  Bam Bam and Fatu trade some power stuff to start until Bigelow eats a superkick for two. Bammer comes back with an enzuigiri, as Vince calls it a “gruelling matchup” two minutes in. (Vince says a lot of stuff, like “The WWE Network will launch April 1 2012!”.)  Nice looking double-team superkick gets two for the cannibals. Irwin tags in and gets nowhere, missing a charge and going flying to the outside, where he gets beaten up. Alas, Bigelow pulls down the top rope shortly after, sending Fatu crashing to the floor. Thankfully, he landed on his ass, and thus had lots of padding. The cannibal-in-peril thing lasts about 30 seconds, before Samu gets the hot tag and kills both heels. A diving headbutt gets two, and the Shrinkers hit the finishing sequence on IRS – headbutts, double-front-legsweep, big FAT-ASSED SPLASH OF DOOM. Ref is districted by Ted Dibiase, and all hell breaks loose as all 14 managers get involved and the bell rings at 7:20 for the DQ. A pleasantly peppy little match ruined by a bonehead ending. **1/4 (Who books a DQ in the opener?  Dusty Rhodes?)  Leslie Nielsen does a C-level comedy bit on his “search for the Undertaker”. Do you think Vince Russo wrote this one?  (Jesus, even the celebrities are dead now on these shows.)  We get a locker room interview with Razor Ramon. QUICK, SOMEONE HIDE THE COKE! WWF Meaningless Women’s title match: Alundra Blayze v. Bull Nakano. Alundra is current WCW window dressing Medusa. Man, did she have ugly implants when she had the breast implants done, or what? She went way downhill in the looks department when she had those puppies super-sized. (I’m thinking a lot of hard living on the road had as much to do with that as anything.)  Blayze tries a couple of dropkicks to start, but Bull shoves her aside and proceeds to kicking ass. I don’t watch much women’s wrestling, but (when I do, I watch Dos Eq…oh, wait, sorry) Nakano has always impressed me. Bull is working super-stiff here, getting a legdrop for two. After some more punishment, Blayze comes back with a rana for two, but misses a roundhouse kick and Bull chokes her out. An interesting variation on the Boston crab follows, but we’re in Chicago so Alundra makes the ropes. Now Bull follows with a Standing Sharpshooter that draws Ooooo’s from the crowd, and rightly so. Blayze gets a quick two off a rollup, then Nakano hooks an armbar submission, called a wristlock by Vince. (Perhaps he confused it with a wristwatch.) Well, he’s trying. Blayze comes back with the HAIR PULL SLAMS OF DOOM for two. Bull reverses a piledriver and covers for two, but Blayze bridges out. Backslide gets two for Blayze, and she tries a rana but gets powerbombed for two. Bull goes to the top and misses a legdrop, allowing Blayze to hit the GERMAN SUPLEX OF DEATH for the pin to retain at 8:20. HUGE pop from the crowd, so of course the women’s division was buried soon after. *** (Can’t bury what’s already dead and buried.)  Toad Pedophile interviews the new tag champs. For those keeping score, this is officially the moment when the Clique took over and the WWF began it’s slow death. Remember, the King Lear rant is coming! Intercontinental title match: Diesel v. Razor Ramon. You young’uns would probably know Diesel better as “Big Poochie” or “That dumbass booker Kevin Nash”, while Razor Ramon is better known as “AA Member #191939” or “Scott ‘Alka’ Hall”. Hey, don’t look at me, I’m not the one who got drunk and groped a 50-year old woman. (Well, not as of that writing…I mean the 2000s were tough on everyone and we all do things we’re not proud of.) Anyway, Walter Payton, some football guy, is in Ramon’s corner, and while Chicago seems happy to see him, Payton doesn’t seem terribly thrilled. (I freely admit that I live “in the bubble” when it comes to sports.  I can talk hockey, but I don’t know Tim Tebow from the guy on the shampoo commercials with the crazy hair and couldn’t pick either one out of a police lineup if I was at gunpoint.)  Ramon tosses his toothpick at Diesel…and he sells it. See, now there’s dedication to your craft. (See, Hall draws attention to himself when he walks through an airport, so people BELIEVE that the toothpick hurts.)  Slow start, until the Outsiders lock up and Diesel dismantles him. I can’t believe I used to mark out for this big goof back in 1994. Actually, much of the internet jumped on the Diesel bandwagon in 94, which is why he got the World title a few months after this. (The internet {heart} Kevin Nash!) Shawn interferes freely, and Diesel ends up with a sleeper. Ramon backdrops out, but ends up going over the top to the floor, allowing Shawn to pull off a turnbuckle pad and get in Payton’s face. Only Shawn F’N Michaels could carry two guys in a match he’s not even involved in. Diesel continues the assault on Ramon back in the ring. He runs Ramon into the exposed turnbuckle back-first, then hits a nasty side slam for two. He hits Snake Eyes, and Shawn interferes some more. Ramon has gotten NO offense in here. Big elbow gets two. Now the legacy of Big Lazy rears it’s ugly head, as we get the chinlock and the abdominal stretch, two Nash favorites when he wants a break. Ramon comeback #1 fails, but when Diesel goes for Snake Eyes again, Ramon escapes and cradles Diesel for two. Ramon comeback #2 succeeds, as he gets the better of a test of fisticuffsmanship and then posts Diesel, which leads to the bulldog off the top for two. (I desperately wanted to get fisticuffsmanship over as the catchphrase of the new century, but it was just never gonna happen.)  Dramatic bodyslam gets two. Shawn gets involved and goes flying into the railing, taking the best bump of the match. Diesel ends up on the top, but Ramon can’t suplex him off. Diesel goes for the jackknife, but Ramon backdrops out. Shawn interferes AGAIN, and we get the double-KO spot. Shawn and Payton get into a tug-of-war over the IC belt, which distracts the ref. Shawn tries for the superkick on Ramon, but he misses and nails Diesel, which would actually signal the start of Diesel’s face turn. Ramon crawls over and covers for the pin and the title at 15:05 while Payton subdues Michaels. It was Ramon’s second title, btw. ***1/4 So sue me, I enjoyed it. Shawn and Diesel do separate followup interviews, setting up Wrestlemania XI, albeit indirectly. Lex Luger and Tatanka face off in the locker-room, with Tatanka accusing Luger of selling out. Lex Luger v. Tatanka. The story here is that Luger may or may not have sold out to Ted Dibiase’s Corporation. However, the crowd boos Tatanka heavily and cheers Luger, so obviously THEY knew what the real deal was. Series of lockups to start goes nowhere. They do a sad little wrestling sequence to reinforce that this is babyface v. babyface. Tatanka gets two off a powerslam and does the Pissed Off Racial Stereotype comeback with chops for two. He goes to the top and hits….wait for it….A CHOP. He misses whatever off the top on the second try, and Luger comes back with his SHITTY CLOTHESLINES OF DOOM. Cue Ted Dibiase, who wanders out with a bag of money. Luger yells at him, allowing Tatanka to roll him up for the pin at 6:09. * After the match, Luger is upset with Tatanka, and goes after Dibiase. However, the fans’ suspicions are confirmed as Tatanka jumps Luger from behind, thus officially joining the Corporation. Pretty much everyone on RSPW second-guessed this one easily enough at the time, but it was still pretty shocking to see career babyface Tatanka suddenly turn. Unfortunately, it was completely wasted since he’s the worst heel in the history of wrestling. Oh well, good intentions and all that.  (Of course, Luger betrayed us all and joined the real evil Corporation a year later…)  Jeff Jarrett v. Mabel. Where’s the puppies? MABEL ATE THEM! Okay, so they weren’t around then, but it’s still a good joke. (No.  No it’s not.)  Speaking of good jokes, popular legend has it that other members of the WWF locker room would gather around Mabel in a circle and sing the Barney theme song. Onto the bad jokes: Oscar’s “rapping”, as he gets all up in our area with an intro that sounds like “Throw your hands in the air, awoogaoaodjfjaoidjokjkjkjka, anakjodmvomeioajifdaf, everybody in the house OH YEAH!”. Sadly, I left my Dumbshit-to-English translation guide at my friend’s house, so I have no idea what he was shooting for there. To the match. They strut a lot, and Jarrett gets thrown around the ring a lot. He comes back with some high-flying stuff, but Mabel no-sells. He hits the FAT-ASSED LEG LARIAT OF DOOM for two, as we cut to Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz, who is on strike in the stands. Don’t ask. (Vince really has his finger on the pulse of pop culture, giving it to those baseball owners via SATIRE in a stinging commentary of something.  Because pointing out that something exists = comedy in WWF world and always has.)  Jarrett goes after Oscar, but misses and hits the post. Back in the ring and Mabel misses a splash, allowing Jarrett to get two. Jarrett goes for a sunset flip, Mabel drops down, Jarrett moves and gets the pin at 5:50. Total crap, but the crowd was into it. * Cage match, WWF title: Bret Hart v. Owen Hart. Owen attacks right off the bat, ramming him into two turnbuckles and doing the 10-punch count. Bret comes back with a lariat, but Owen stomps on his hands. Bret blocks a shot to the cage and DDTs Owen. Another slugfest erupts, won by Bret. He makes the first climb attempt, but gets pulled off by Owen. ENZUIGIRI, BABY! Owen nearly makes it out but Bret catches him going over the top and hits a backdrop suplex to the mat. Bret crawls for the door but Owen catches him and whips him to the other corner. Bret grabs a quick bulldog and tries for the door again. Owen yanks him away and dives, Bret yanks him away and dives, repeat twice. Bret tries to climb out, and gets slammed off by Owen. Now Owen climbs and again nearly makes it, but Bret grabs him by the hair and they fight on the top. Owen kicks him off and dropkicks him off the top rope. SWEET. Owen climbs again and they fight on the top again with Owen getting the better of the situation. Owen goes for a piledriver but Bret reverses. Whip, reverse, and double-KO. Owen lunges for the door again, but Bret stops him and drops a vicious looking elbow on him. Bret to the top, Owen stops him again. Bret kicks him in the face a few times, but Owen holds on and crotches him on the top rope. Owen tries for the door again, but Bret stops him. Headbutt to the groin puts Owen down and Bret goes for the climb out again. He changes his mind and goes for an elbowdrop, but misses. Owen climbs out, with Bret not moving. He pops up at the last second and blocks Owen, however, pulling him in by the hair in a great visual. He slams him in for good measure, then makes his own ascent. Owen brings him back in with a modified samoan drop. Owen tries to climb again, Bret stops him. Owen keeps control, however, and they end up ramming each other into the cage. Bret recovers first and makes it about 3/4 of the way down the cage…when Owen grabs his hair and pulls him back in. Piledriver on Bret. Both guys are exhausted, but Owen tries to climb out again. Bret meets him at the top, and they have a slugfest that leads to both guys collapsing to the mat below. Bret immediately crawls for the door, but Owen grabs his leg. Owen fights him down and then lunges for the door himself, but Bret blocks, drags him back in, and slingshots Owen into the cage. Crowd is WAY into this one. Bret crawls for the wrong corner to build suspense, then finds the right one…and Owen leaps over and stops him. Crowd is having a collective heart attack. Owen is up first and goes behind Bret, but ends up going facefirst to the cage. Bret is selling a knee injury, but still climbs up again. Owen gets up….collapses….and makes it juuuuuuuuuust in time to stop his brother from winning. Back in via the hair, and Owen hits a leg lariat. The crowd is absolutely losing it. Owen climbs to the top again, and makes it halfway out before Bret stops him. They fight on the top rope, with Bret getting a big field goal kick to send Owen flying. He pops up again and hauls Bret back in. Owen hits some european uppercuts, and we get another double-KO. Owen makes it up and to the top rope, but Bret stops him and superplexes him back in. Even Davey Boy, at ringside, is marking out. Both guys are out cold again. Bret crawls to the door . . . slowly . . . but Owen grabs him. Owen slaps on the Sharpshooter, screaming about how the belt is gonna be his the whole time. Bret breaks free and reverses to his own. He releases and climbs again, with Owen once again lunging at the last split second and grabbing the hair. Both men fall to the mat. Owen makes it up and to the top first, and both guys make it halfway down the cage, fighting the whole way. Owen rams Bret into the cage, but slips and gets hooked in the cage, allowing Bret to drop down at 31:51 to retain the title. Meanwhile, Jim Neidhart blindsides the Bulldog in the audience, taking Diana down with him. Owen and Anvil toss Bret back into the cage, chain the door shut, and beat the holy hell out of him as the Hart Brothers storm the cage. Oh man, this is so NWA. I love it. Finally the Bulldog (with his caveman hairdo and all) fights his way in and makes the save. This is easily the best cage match you’ll ever see in the WWF, and it’s a terrific way to end the show. ***** Sadly, this didn’t end the show, because we still have one more piece of business to take care of. Main event: Undertaker v. Underfaker. At Royal Rumble 94, Undertaker got beat by Yokozuna and shoved into his own casket, at which point he rose into the air and “died”, but not before read a dramatic soliloquy. He took a couple of months off, then in the stupidest plot development in WWF history, and that’s saying something, Ted Dibiase introduced his newest charge…the Undertaker. But see, it’s not Mark Callaway, it’s Brian Lee, (who would go on to become Chainz), which EVERYONE knew at the time. And of course, the original Undertaker returned, and they decided to fight. First of all, Lee is about 6 inches shorter than Callaway, so the illusion is blown right there. Anyway, Paul Bearer has a couple of Druids wheel out a casket, then unveils his new urn, with flashlight built in, then the real Undertaker makes his return, debuting the new purple look that he had until Survivor Series 1996. The Purple Era is generally considered the low point of UT’s career, and coincides, not coincidentally, with the lowest point of the WWF’s history. This will all be covered in greater detail in the King Lear rant. Don’t you just hate a tease? Oh yeah, the match. Brian Lee does a pretty decent job of pretending to be the Undertaker, right down to no-selling every single move. UT chases UF outside the ring, then suplexes him back in. Crowd has no idea who to cheer for. The faker gains control and tries the ropewalk, but gets slammed off. And sits up. Taker comes back with his own, and the crowd seems to be catching onto the fact that the purple one is the good guy. More no-selling happens. Crowd is just dead. Pardon the pun. They “brawl” outside, and it’s like listening to a 45 at 33 1/3. For those under 20, that’s, uh, like watching something really slow. Yeah. (And now vinyl is cool again.) Anyway, Faker gets a chokeslam and Taker doesn’t sit up, so he takes that as a good sign and tombstones him. UT sits up, so Faker tries again, but Taker reverses to his own. Then picks him up and gives him two more, just for good luck. And this time, there’s no sitting up. Undertaker gets the pin at 9:20 and puts everyone out of their misery, and the words “fake Undertaker” are never, EVER spoken on WWF TV again. –**** The Bottom Line: Well, the show was going okay until that last match. Bret-Owen is truly something special, however, and the Ramon-Diesel match is worth a look. Still, this show signalled the true beginning of the end for the WWF, as the Clique began their rise to power and never looked back. Mild recommendation.  (The cage match is elsewhere a couple of different places, and I’m fairly certain Ramon-Diesel is available on another DVD compilation set as well, so this would be a big SKIP IT these days.)