The Netcop Retro Rant for Summerslam 95. (I had actually redone this show a few years back, but when I was typing it up I realized that I was basically doing the exact same review over again. I did notably change one star rating, however.) Let’s take a trip back to 1995, when the major players of today were minor players, and the WWF hit it’s lowest nadir. Live from Pittsburgh, PA, once described by Bret Hart as the place you’d have to stick the hose if you wanted to give America an enema. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler. Backstage, Dean Douglas is grading the matches. Opening match: Hakushi v. The 1-2-3 Kid. More X-Pac than Lightning Kid at this point, the Kid was on the verge of the heel turn that would reinvent his entire career. Hakushi is Hayabusa’s buddy Jinsei Shinzaki, and has become one of the worst wrestlers on the international circuit through years of dedicated laziness. (It’s good to have goals in life.) Hakushi was in the midst of a heel push at this point, although the fans were pretty apathetic. (Tensai!) Quick start as the Kid does a flip out of a wristlock using the ropes, impressing the crowd. Nice Van Dam-ish sequence goes nowhere. Another criss-cross goes nowhere. Hakushi gets a cheap shot to take control, but the Kid flips out of a powerbomb, only to get dropped with a backbreaker. Hakushi hits a handspring elbow, ironically leaving Kid in the position he usually puts people in for the Broncobuster. And even more ironically, Hakushi does it! Stalling follows, however. Hakushi kicks away at the leg and hits some stiff kicks to the neck. Pump splash gets two. Too much resting here — Hakushi was made to look VERY good by Bret Hart in their feud. Hakushi superkicks the Kid out of the ring, then debuts the elusive Space Flying Tiger Drop on North American PPV. He tosses the Kid back in and nails a shoulderblock off the top for two. A diving headbutt misses, however. Kid comes back and dumps Hakushi out, then nails a dive from the second turnbuckle to the floor. He comes in with a slingshot legdrop for two, and a splash off the top for two. He goes for a leg lariat, but gets caught in mid-air and dropped on his head for three at 8:49. **1/2 for the highspots. (This was pretty good, actually, about ***1/2). Mabel cuts a pretty decent heel promo for the main event, promising a surprise. Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Bob “Sparkplug” Holly. Oh, man, where do you start with this one? One goes from aristocrat to degenerate, the other goes from race-car driver to Hardcore. Who knew Holly actually had a personality? And may I also point out that HHH has put on about 50 pounds since then. (Only 50? I guess it was only 1998 at that point.) HHH does his Steve Regal impression here, refusing to lock up with Holly. HHH was, shall we say, not very good at this point. Mainly punching and kicking going on here. Holly bumps around pretty good, and HHH marks a milestone: His first ever knee-related move on PPV. In this case, a kneedrop. And thus a grand legacy begins. They fight over an abdominal stretch, crowd couldn’t care less about either guy. This, in a nutshell, was what destroyed the WWF in this era: Gimmicks instead of characters. People care about characters, not gimmicks. More on that in the King Lear Rant, coming soon to WrestleLine. (Geez, this guy’s worse than Tout.) Sloppy sequence allows Holly to come back. He makes the mistake of trying a backdrop, however, and Helmsley turns it into the Pedigree for the pin at 7:11. 1/2* Jacob & Eli Blu v. The Smoking Gunns. The Blu twins were last seen in the WWF as DOA. (And then again in WCW as a bunch of lame teams.) Billy Gunn you know, and you know Bart Gunn. (Does anyone really know Bart Gunn anymore? REALLY?) You probably don’t associate them as a team, however. For reference sake, the Gunns won their first tag titles in January of 1995, and lost them at Wrestlemania XI. This was a nothing tag match to put the Gunns over. Billy still had the long hair and moustache at this point. Billy hits a fame-asser quickly on a Blu twin for a two count. Nice double-team sequence from the Gunns gets two. Billy gets caught with both Blus and dropped on his head to become ass-in-peril, however. Kick, punch, kick, punch. No matter how many times Vince repackages the Harris brothers, they still suck. See also: Knight, Dennis. (Mideon.) See also: Bradshaw, Justin. (Written six years before he ended up getting the World title for a year.) Bart gets the hot tag and hits a bunch of left hands (if it was Steve Williams in there, the match would be over) and the Gunns hit the Sidewinder (legdrop-side slam combo) for the easy pin at 5:31. Bleh. 1/2* Skip (w/ Sunny) v. Barry Horowitz. This would be Horowitz’ one and only brush with stardom, as he scored a fluke pin on Skip to set up this feud. (And then fell in love with Eve, but got chokeslammed by Kane a million times…oh wait, wrong guy.) Barry goes right after Skip with a jawbreaker and a dragon-screw leg whip to start, then he clotheslines him to the floor. He misses a blind charge, but compensates in time and gets a rollup for two. Skip takes a nice bump as Barry suplexes him from the ring to floor, prompting Sunny to throw in the towel. Ref doesn’t buy it. Sunny trips Horowitz, allowing Skip to come back. Man, Candido has NO ring presence at this point. Again, Vince was pushing a gimmick with Chris “Bodydonna Skip” Candido, while he was pushing a character in Barry Horowitz. Guess who the fans responded to? (Steve Austin.) Skip controls with some basic stuff. Fans don’t care about Skip. Horowitz comes back with two shouldertackles for two counts, but runs into a clothesline. He comes back with a Thesz press for two, but runs into a powerslam this time. Skip keeps wasting time. Skip hits three sloppy legdrops for two. He needs to get the Kid to show him how to do those properly. Both go for a dropkick and we get a double-KO spot. Crowd keeps chanting for Barry. Skip gets knocked off the top rope, but Horowitz can’t capitalize. Skip hits a diving headbutt…and picks up Barry at two. Big mistake, Skip. Barry comes back and goes to the top, but the crack whore pushes him down, allowing Skip to hit the superplex. Hakushi wanders down, since he has issues with Skip. Skip yells threats at him, so Hakushi springboards in…right over both men. Skip is so confused that he doesn’t even see Horowitz behind him, and Barry small packages him for the upset win at 11:11. This was Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling, and it’s too bad that Barry’s push was aborted even faster than I thought it would be. **1/2 Dean Douglas defines “Vivify” while analyzing the last match. Those who say that Dean Douglas was somehow a bad character is either full of s--- or falling for Shane’s ECW propaganda. It drew great and instant heel heat. The problem was with Razor Ramon and clique politics. More on that in…wait for it…The King Lear Rant. (You’d think I would have held out for some money from Wrestleline given how hard I shilling for it.) WWF Meaningless Women’s title match: Alundra Blayze v. Bertha Faye. As a continuation of what I writing in the 94 rant about the women’s division being buried, Vince decides to switch from pushing actual wrestlers to using his normal strategy in the men’s division: Pushing freakishly huge monsters. See also: Mabel. Bertha Faye no-sells and screams a lot. Picture Roseanne Barr in a technicolor dress. Bertha destroys Blayze, but misses a splash. Alundra gets a victory roll for two, but Faye is JUST TOO FAT to keep down. Blayze gets the HAIR SLAMS OF DOOM, but the ref is talking to Harvey Wippleman. A chase ensues, and we head back in the ring as Blayze gets two off a rollup. Bertha actually takes a rana for two. Blayze hits two dropkicks off the second rope, but misses a third and gets powerbombed for the pin and the title, a finish NO ONE wanted to see. That’s 4:53 of my life I’ll never get back again. Blayze regained the title a couple of weeks later, then showed up on the upstart WCW Monday Nitro the next week and dumped the belt in a garbage can, which is where it belonged. Well, at least it was clean. *1/2 (RIP Bertha Faye.) Casket match: Kama v. The Undertaker. Kama took the urn-stealing angle a step further, actually melting it down and wearing it as a chain. Kama = Papa Shango = Kama Mustafa = The Godfather, by the way. Nice psychology right away as UT dumps Kama over the top, right on the casket, causing Kama to freak out and get back in the ring. UT hits a splash in the corner and the ropewalk, showing a lot of energy for that time period. UT asks for the casket to be opened, and tosses Kama into it, but can’t get the lid shut. Kama hits a clothesline off the top, which is no-sold by UT. UT tries another splash in the corner, but gets caught and slammed by Kama. UT goes into the casket, but manages to pull Kama in. Dibiase makes the save. Kama and Dibiase double-team UT. Like I care. UT comes back but Dibiase keeps distracting him and Kama rams him into the post backfirst. He suplexes Undertaker on the casket to work on the back. Psy-col-o-gy? He follows with a baseball slide. Man, did I suddenly tune into lucha libre or something? Kama goes for a piledriver on the casket, but UT backdrops him into the ring and comes back. Kama hits a powerslam, but forgets it’s a casket match, which allows UT to sit up. Chinlock ensues. Taker escapes and comes back for real. Flying clothesline, and both guys go tumbling into the casket, and the lid is closed. Kama tries to escape but can’t. Now UT escapes, but can’t shut the lid. UT chokeslams him, back in the ring, and tombstones him. Into the casket at 16:25, match over. Ye gods, whose bright idea was it to give these guys that much time? ** for the psychology. Bret Hart v. Isaac Yankem DDS. Remember what I was saying about gimmicks v. characters? Here you go again. The idea is that Isaac is Jerry Lawler’s personal dentist, brought in as the final revenge against Bret Hart. He is, however, much better known for a gimmick that finally clicked for him in 1997: Kane. (And now you know…the rest of the story.) And why did that one click? Because it was the character that the fans got into, rather than the gimmick. Yankem controls with some power stuff not unlike what he does today as Kane, with the same mannerisms. It’s pretty weird to see, actually. He misses a blind charge and Bret hits an inverted atomic drop and three clotheslines, the third of which sends Isaac to the floor. Bret follows with a pescado (dive to the floor). Back in and Bret goes for the Sharpshooter early, but Yankem blocks. Rollup gets two for Bret. He comes off the ropes and gets press slammed, however, giving Isaac the advantage. Many shot of Isaac’s bad teeth are shown, thus revealing the last refuge of a bad gimmick: Situational irony. See, he’s a DENTIST, but he’s got BAD TEETH! Understand how that’s supposed to draw heat? Me neither. (At least there’s some minimal effort put into giving him something to distinguish him from Jackson Andrews or Abraham Washington or Fillard Millmore) Bret reverses a hangman’s neckbreaker into a small package for two, but gets clotheslined to the floor. Yankem rams Bret to the post and hits him with the DENTAL BAG OF DEATH. Bret ends up draped on the top rope and Isaac legdrops him off the top, which would have looked great if it was hit properly. Bret dodges some sledges, but gets decked from behind. Yankem rolls out, and Bret follows with a tope suicida. They brawl outside for a bit, then back in for a Hitman bulldog for two. Yes kids, it’s time for…wait for it….THE FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! (Still waiting on that royalty cheque. So is JTG, apparently.) Lawler helps his dentist make the ropes on the Sharpshooter, however. Bret backdrops Yankem to the floor, where they brawl. Bret gets whipped to the steps, and Yankem goes to the top. Bret slams him off, then whips him to the corner and posts him, tying his feet together with TV cable. He then goes after Jerry Lawler, allowing Yankem to drill (get it?) him from behind off the top rope, and toss him back in. Bret gets a flying forearm, but Lawler trips him up, and Yankem ties him in the ropes and beats on him, drawing the DQ at 16:10. Yankem definitely showed promise here, but then he was trained by Al Snow so that’s not terribly surprising. He got REALLY bad during the Diesel II period, however. Still, not a bad debut at all. ***, thanks to Bret. Ladder match, Intercontinental title: Shawn Michaels v. Razor Ramon. Shawn is the champion here, not Razor, for those of you who keep asking me about this one. This was scheduled to be Shawn v. Sid for the title up to about a week before the show, but Vince felt the card sucked as it stood, and wanted to add, you know, a good match. The Sid v. Shawn match *did* go off a couple of weeks later, and was the infamous “He pins the big guy with three superkicks” match that marked the debut of Eric “Mr. Tact” Bischoff’s guerrilla warfare tactics on Nitro. Dok Hendrix joins us for commentary, replacing the departing Jerry Lawler. Ramon ducks out of a superkick very early on. Ramon goes for the Edge early on, which Shawn escapes from. Things are even until Shawn gets whipped into the corner and takes a suicide bump over the top. They fight into the aisle where the ladder waits, but don’t go for it. Back to the ring, where Shawn takes an absolutely sick bump and gets suplexed to the floor, full on. No landing on his feet here. Ramon goes for the Edge again, but Shawn wiggles out. Ramon ducks the superkick and they nail each other for an early double-KO. Ramon recovers first and hits a blockbuster suplex off the top, and goes for the ladder. Shawn misses the baseball slide he hit at WMX, thus showing that Ramon has learned from the last match. Ramon goes for the belt, but Shawn dumps him off, then nails him with the ladder. Shawn climbs, but Ramon yanks Shawn’s tights down, and Shawn slips off the ladder and takes ANOTHER sick bump, wrenching his knee and getting it caught in the ladder. Ramon stomps on it, just because. He rams it into the ladder to further the damage, and clips Shawn’s knee with the ladder when he stands up. Then he slams Shawn on the ladder, right on his knee. Just brutal. Razor sets up the ladder, but Shawn can’t even stand up. So Ramon beats on the knee some more. Attaboy. Shawn kicks him into the ladder, but it doesn’t last long, as Ramon drops him knee-first on the ladder. Ramon absolutely dismantles the knee, ramming it into the apron and wrapping it around the post. He even works in an indian deathlock, which is just about the only place where it’s appropriate. Now back to the ladder, as Ramon drops it on Shawn’s knee. Ramon is drawing great heel heat here. He goes for the climb now, but gets knocked off by a flying Shawn. Ramon climbs again, but is followed and suplexed off by Shawn. Crowd is torn as to who to cheer for. Shawn sets up the ladder in the corner and whips Ramon into it, then again in another corner, and a forearm smash for good measure. And the crowd BOOS. Amazing. Shawn moonsaults off the ladder onto Ramon, which was somewhat blown by Ramon. Shawn to the top of the ladder, but misses the splash that he hit at Wrestlemania X. Notice how the one match builds on the other? The ladder is set up in the middle, and both climb it, and both go crashing off it, with Ramon ending up on the floor. Shawn charges him with the ladder and misses, ending up on the floor himself. Then, in an odd moment, Razor grabs the spare ladder from under the ring and brings it in. Shawn, meanwhile, climbs again, but gets Edged off the top of the ladder. Ramon moves first, setting up his own ladder. Shawn sets up his, and we have a foot race. Shawn superkicks Ramon off his ladder, but then falls off and takes a nasty bump. That didn’t look scripted. Ramon tries another Edge, but gets backdropped over the top and Shawn grabs the belt to retain at 24:56, after another aborted attempt. Shawn blew the ending twice, so minus a bit, but the rest was gold. ****1/2 (I boosted this one to the full monty on subsequent viewings, but others disagree, and that’s OK.) Dean Douglas critiques Ramon’s performance, and Ramon storms his set and attacks him. (“I bought this Tupperware at your store last week and someone used it to smoke a bunch of crack!”) Oh, man, do I *have* to watch the main event? WWF title match: Diesel v. King Mabel. This was set up because GOD HATES ME and wanted to see me suffer. (No, that’s the three hour RAW era.) Mabel pushes Diesel around to start, because he’s JUST TOO FAT. Diesel can’t slam him, but a shoulderblock sends him to the floor. Diesel then has the balls to pull out his no-hands pescado. Last time he did that was Souled 98 against the Giant, by the way. They fight outside the ring, with Diesel going to the ringpost and Mabel charging, but eating a foot to the face. Back in the ring, crowd is deader than…well, I’ll resist my baser impulses. (And to think the list of people I could have gone to was significantly shorter at that point.) Mabel hits a ugly Bossman slam and a buttdrop. Ref gets bumped for no adequately explained reason, and MOM double-team Big D. Lex Luger makes the save, but gets taken out by Diesel (who assumes that Luger is on Bulldog’s side and thus is against him). Luger takes out Mo anyway, so no hard feelings I guess. And that is the last appearance of Mr. Luger in the WWF. Back in the ring, Mabel gets the belly-to-belly for two, but misses a splash off the second rope. Diesel follows with a shoulderblock off the second rope and gets the mercy killing at 9:10. Yay, it’s over. -** The Bottom Line: Diesel drew no heat for this show, while Ramon and Shawn rocked the house, and Vince STILL didn’t take the hint. That lesson runs true today in WCW, and some of the same people are even involved. The message was written on the wall, and Vince even delivered it himself during the IC title match: “It was originally supposed to be Sid v. Shawn, but interim president Gorilla Monsoon said that the people didn’t want to see that, they wanted to see a ladder match”. Did Vince listen? No. Why? It’s in the rant. Coming soon to WrestleLine. Ain’t I a stinker? (Dude, enough.) Anyway, this show had it’s ups and downs, with the “ups” very slightly beating out the “downs”, but that’s mainly thanks to the efforts of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, rather than from the last hurrah of the cartoon character age. If you’ve never seen Ramon v. Shawn II, I’d recommend checking this show out. Otherwise, don’t bother.