What the World Was Watching: SummerSlam 1995

Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler are doing commentary and they are live from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  McMahon announces that 18,062 fans are in attendance, setting a record for the Pittsburgh Civic Arena.  According to thehistoryofwwe.com, this was the reported attendance figure with 17,000 of those fans paying to attend the show.

Dean Douglas is in a satellite classroom, ready to evaluate tonight’s SummerSlam matches.

Footage of Hakushi losing to Barry Horowitz earlier today on The Action Zone is shown.

Opening Contest:  Hakushi (22-3) defeats The 1-2-3 Kid (10-2) after a modified powerbomb at 9:27:

There was not a feud that produced this match but it was booked so that the pay-per-view could get off to a hot start.  It was also an effort to upgrade the workrate of the show to encourage a few buys from fans that appreciated a more high-flying style.  McMahon and Lawler have some funny banter in this match, with McMahon perplexed that Hakushi is getting some cheers from fans near the front row and Lawler claiming that any boos Hakushi is receiving are coming from the upper deck since McMahon let those fans in for free.  The match lives up to the hype as Hakushi kicks the match into overdrive after a Space Flying Tiger Drop, a move that he debuted on WWF television against Bret Hart several weeks ago, and the Kid responds shortly thereafter with a slingshot leg drop and a top rope splash.  However, when the Kid goes for his spinning heel kick, Hakushi masterfully catches him with a modified powerbomb to make fans forget his loss to Horowitz earlier in the day.  Rating:  ***½

Dok Hendrix interviews King Mabel, who says that there will be a big surprise for the final installment of the “royal plan” later tonight in the WWF title match.

Hunter-Hearst Helmsley (15-0) pins Bob Holly (12-7-1) after a Pedigree at 7:11:

This is Helmsley’s pay-per-view debut.  His undefeated streak is not completely papered as he did beat Duke Droese last month on Superstars.  Holly is a capable worker but he is booked like an enhancement talent here, absorbing most of Helmsley’s offense as the British Bulldog is shown arriving at the arena.  He does his best to put over Helmsley, though, taking a hard whip into the corner and then a hiptoss over the top rope.  The end comes when Holly’s rally is cut short when Helmsley counters a backdrop attempt into a Pedigree.  Based on the crowd’s reaction, the wrong guy went over but the company was committed to making Helmsley a star, even with this stereotypical and boorish character.  Rating:  *

Footage of WWF superstars facing Pittsburgh fire fighters in a tug-of-war is shown.  The team of Bam Bam Bigelow, Savio Vega, Henry Godwinn, and others ended up winning.

The Smoking Gunns (18-3-1) defeat The Blu Brothers (w/Uncle Zebekiah) (14-1-2) when Billy pins Eli after a Sidewinder at 6:11:

At this point there are only four active tag teams in the company and one could argue fewer than that because Men on a Mission has become a vehicle for Mabel’s singles push.  As a result, this is a de facto number one contender’s match for Owen Hart & Yokozuna’s tag team titles.  McMahon and Lawler continue to trade wits in this match, with Lawler ragging on the Gunns outfits and McMahon insisting that they are “the real deal.”  The referee botches a count after Billy is hit with a powerslam, counting three and making fans in the first several rows pop and then shower the referee with boos.  The Blus continue their assault but heel miscommunication in a four-way brawl leads to the Gunns quickly busting out the Sidewinder and they continue to construct a road back to tag team title contention.  This would be one of the last appearances of the Blu Brothers, who would soon find their way to ECW.  I have seen this match panned by critics but it did a good job of masking the Blus weaknesses on offense and the Gunns knew when to start their comebacks to maintain interest.  Rating:  **½

A video package recaps the Barry Horowitz-Skip feud.

Barry Horowitz (3-13) defeats Skip (w/Sunny) (7-4) after a small package at 11:21:

Horowitz now has theme music, coming to the ring with an upbeat rendition of the Jewish folk song “Hava Nagila.”  Horowitz is so excited to be on a pay-per-view that he takes the fight to Skip the second he hits the ring and forgets to remove all of his entrance attire.  Continuing the evening’s string of wild bumps, Skip takes a suplex from the ring to the arena floor and Sunny tries to stop the match, but referee Earl Hebner tells her “This is wrestling, this isn’t boxing!” and refuses to accept her throwing in the towel on Skip’s behalf.  McMahon makes sure fans know that we are not watching Mike Tyson-Peter McNeeley, continuing to take jabs at boxing to make the WWF seem like a superior product.  One issue with this feud, as illusted by this match, is the crowd really loves Horowitz, working up chants for him on several occasions, but they do not care much about Skip, who fails to generate enough heat when it is time for him to control the match.  And based on how the feud has gone one would think that Skip had a good chance to win here, even if it was by nefarious means, but Skip blows his chance by pulling Horowitz up at two after a flying headbutt.  Hakushi wanders out after Skip hits his superduperplex finisher, apparently wanting to continue his issue with Skip from The Action Zone earlier today, and Hakushi’s distraction, which includes jumping over Skip into the ring, allows Horowitz to small package his adversary, win his third match of the feud and, according to McMahon, a WWF contract.  The WWF really should have ridden the Horowitz train some more as the crowd exploded for his victory and it is presented as such a feel good moment that it just brings a smile to your face.  There was just something incredibly organic about this push that was not found elsewhere in 1995.  Rating:  ***¼

Dean Douglas defines the word “vivify” and uses it to note Hakushi’s interference in the last contest.  He gives the referee a failing grade and gives Horowitz the grade of “S” for slacker.

Todd Pettengill recaps some moments from the WrestleMania X ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon.  He interviews Michaels, who says it is impossible to prepare for a ladder match.  He says that the Intercontinental title is all he has and he is going to show everyone that he is the greatest Intercontinental champion of all-time.

WWF Women’s Championship Match:  Bertha Faye (w/Harvey Wippleman) (2-0) pins Alundra Blayze (Champion) (1-0) after a Big Bertha Bomb at 4:38

The WWF Women’s title never got much attention before the late 1990s, and this match exposes how badly it has been treated as a legitimate belt since Blayze has not defended it on television since she defeated Bull Nakano the night after WrestleMania XI.  In fact, we have not heard from either woman in more than two months as the last angle of this feud took place on the June 3 edition of Superstars when Faye claimed she was sexier and more talented than Blayze.  Although Faye is booked as a monster, she bumps around a lot, going over in a victory roll sequence and a hurricanrana.  Blayze really tries to make something of this, flying around like she’s Sting and Faye is Vader, but the match has very little rhythm or flow until Blayze misses a third dropkick off the second rope and Faye delivers a Big Bertha Bomb to win the title.  The booking of this match surprised everyone at the time since Faye had very little credibility, but since there were only two women in the division it must have made sense for the company to keep stretching this feud out until a plan B could be found.  Rating:  *

Jim Ross is told by Wippleman to get his hands off his woman in a post-match interview and he says that Faye has finished her makeover of Blayze that she began the night after WrestleMania.  Faye repeats her old promo lines from June about how beautiful she is.

A video package recaps the Undertaker-Kama feud.

Casket Match:  The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) (10-1) beats Kama (w/Ted DiBiase) (24-0-1) at 16:24:

In an effort to lend excitement to this encounter the WWF debuts a “coffin cam” when the casket is opened and the participants try to stuff each other inside.  The problem is that it is not placed at a good angle and offers very little to viewers.  This feud became more heated over the last couple of weeks, with Kama attacking a Creature of the Night on Superstars and drawing greater attention from the dead man.  The biggest pop of the match comes from the managers as Bearer tosses off his jacket and tries to get at DiBiase, hitting a referee in the face as he attempts to do so.  Kama’s control of the urn should factor more into this matchup but it is an afterthought as the Undertaker fares just as well as he usually would, backdropping out of a piledriver and rallying after a couple of boring chinlock sequences.  Near the end, both men tumble into the casket at the same time but there has to be a winner so the match continues, leading the Undertaker to claim yet another victim with a chokeslam and Tombstone.  The match featured enough action to override some dead spots in the middle and the Undertaker is ready for a new feud, possibly against Mabel who he has unfinished business with after King of the Ring.  In addition, the Million Dollar Corporation has yet to win a pay-per-view match in 1995.  Rating:  **

A video package recaps the Bret Hart-Jerry Lawler/Isaac Yankem feud.

Pettengill interviews Bret Hart, who says he hopes to shut Lawler up once and for all after he takes care of his dentist tonight.

Bret Hart (10-2-2) defeats Isaac Yankem via disqualification when Jerry Lawler interferes at 16:10:

This is Yankem’s debut, billed from Decatur, Illinois as a play on words, and although he had a good run in Smoky Mountain as Unabomb this is a gimmick that is dead on arrival because after this feud there is nowhere for it go.  The match, even though it is one of the pay-per-view’s better billed matches, is also a downgrade for Bret, who was defending the WWF title a year ago on this show.  Although many elements of Yankem’s offense are limited, he does surprise the crowd by doing a guillotine leg drop and Bret keeps things together by busting out a suicide dive to cue the moves of doom.  This leads to the Sharpshooter, but Lawler intervenes to help Yankem get to the ropes.  Bret responds by tying Yankem’s feet together and going after Lawler, but that only works momentarily and Bret soon finds himself being choked by both heels, creating a disqualification finish.  Sadly, that means that this feud has to continue.  On the bright side, Yankem showed lots of promise here and the match steadily got more and more out of control until the official was forced to call for the bell.  This was also the best match of the Bret-Yankem series that would continue into the fall.  Rating:  ***

Dok Hendrix interviews Razor Ramon, who says that he takes pleasure at making Shawn Michaels suffer and will do so in the next bout.  Hendrix then heads to the ringside area to do commentary for the rest of the evening.

Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship:  Shawn Michaels (Champion) (16-1-1) beats Razor Ramon (16-2-1) at 24:56:

Ramon’s character was in a weird period at this point as he was not getting a lot of credible action in singles competition but his tag team with Savio Vega was also going nowhere.  While he is back in his natural environment of competing for the Intercontinental title, there was not a lot for him to do with that belt any longer, especially as a babyface, so it seemed like this match would have been a great time for a heel turn.  Indeed, during the course of the match Ramon plays that role, flinging Michaels body all over God’s creation, with a suplex spot sending Michaels leg across the ringside guardrail, and working Michaels knee after Michaels gets it caught in the ladder trying to climb for the title.  There are also some nice callbacks to the WrestleMania X match, as Ramon moves the ladder out of the way when Michaels tries to baseball slide it into him and avoids a Michaels splash off the ladder.  Both men also find ways to get around McMahon’s prohibition on using the ladder as a weapon, using spots where it appears that they “accidentally” hit their opponent with it.  For example, Ramon tips over the ladder and it just so happens to fall on Michaels injured knee.  However, by the end of the match they just abandoned all niceties with the ladder and revert to using it as a weapon anyway.  The biggest issue with the match, which significantly hinders it, comes from the height of where the title belt is placed, as Michaels and Ramon tell the officials before the bell that it is too high and then when it is repositioned it is still placed too high.  This messes up the finish as Michaels superkicks Ramon off of a ladder when they both set up ladders to give chase – McMahon explains that Ramon is using the “standby ladder” – and has to dive at the title several times, eventually grabbing the belt after throwing a tantrum.  That nullifies all the work that Ramon did on the leg as well, but regardless, this was a great effort by both men to successfully reinvent their classic encounter of a year earlier, and it once again gives Michaels the best match on a pay-per-view broadcast.  One could argue that this was not a five star match due to the messed up finish but that was something outside of both men’s control so I am awarding it all five.  Rating:  *****

After the match, Ramon grabs the Intercontinental title belt from Michaels but hands it back to him in a sign of respect.  To solidify the fact that they are on the same side, both men shake hands.

Dean Douglas then goes to critique Razor Ramon’s performance but this is one evaluation that he is not going to have stand as Ramon attacks him, laying the foundation for a new feud for both men.

For all intents and purposes, the last match should have ended the show but we still have a WWF title match to get to!  Pettengill interviews WWF Champion Diesel, who says that he is going to “get medieval” on Mabel.

WWF Championship Match:  Diesel (Champion) (8-0-1) pins King Mabel (w/Sir Mo) (11-1) after a flying forearm off the second rope at 9:14:

There is some historical relevancy to this contest as it is the first time that a black wrestler has a chance to win the WWF title in a singles match on pay-per-view, something that Mabel calls attention to in the early stages of the match.  These two hosses slug away on each other for a long time, doing their best to keep the crowd going as Diesel does a flying elbow onto Mabel on the floor.  However, Mabel errs by splashing Diesel’s lower back with his rear end, causing Diesel to curse up a storm if you play with the audio of the match.  According to Kevin Nash’s 1995 Timeline shoot, Mabel was nearly fired over that spot because he was told not to do it in the match due to injuring another wrestler.  The referee is bumped to tease a title change, allowing Men on a Mission to double team the champion until Lex Luger runs out, presumably to make a save.  Diesel does not know if Luger if a friend or foe, though, and knocks him out of the ring.  However, Luger shows his true colors are with the champion as he attacks Mo and fights him to the backstage area, allowing Diesel the chance to kick out of a belly-to-belly suplex and catch Mabel with a flying forearm off the second rope to retain the title.  Yes, the workrate was not there for this match but it had enough entertaining spots during the last six minutes to salvage something.  Rating:  *

The Last Word:  Shawn Michaels ascendancy through the company continues on this show as he puts on a clinic and runs circles around what is supposed to be the top feud of the company in Diesel-Mabel.  The Luger appearance at the end was a nice play on the British Bulldog’s heel turn on RAW and it would actually be Luger’s last televised appearance in the WWF as he would take his chances in World Championship Wrestling rather than be relegated to feuding with the Bulldog and Mabel, likely losing to them so that Diesel or other upper midcarders could fight them later.  It is easy to overlook this show because of the main event but it features a great opener, a fun Skip-Horowitz match, a solid Bret Hart effort, and a ladder match that is one of the best of all-time.  For a company suffering fiscal difficulties and low morale, almost everyone brought it here, making this pay-per-view a much stronger effort than King of the Ring two months earlier.

Attendance:  18,046 (17,000 paid)

Buyrate:  0.9 (-0.4 over previous year; 205,000 buys, -35,000 buys over the previous year)

And since we are at the end of a month, here is where wrestlers stood in terms of wins and losses with four months of televised action to go in 1995:

Top Twenty-Five Overall Records (Minimum of Eight Matches):

1—Hunter-Hearst Helmsley (16-0)

2—Man Mountain Rock (15-0)

3—Waylon Mercy (11-0)

4—Jean-Pierre LaFitte (16-0-1)

5—Diesel (10-0-1)

6—Kama (24-1-1)

7—Shawn Michaels (17-1-1)

8—The Undertaker (11-1)

9—Lex Luger (25-3-1)

10—Bart Gunn (20-3-1)

11—Mabel (29-5)

12—Yokozuna (14-2-1)

13—Billy Gunn (19-3-1)

14—King Kong Bundy (16-3)

15—The British Bulldog (26-5-1)

16—Bret Hart (13-2-2)

17—Hakushi (23-5)

18—Mo (18-4)

19—Adam Bomb (18-3-3)

20—Duke Droese (13-3)

21—Bob Backlund (8-2)

22—Owen Hart (19-5-2)

23—Eli Blu (15-4-2)

24—Bam Bam Bigelow (19-6)

25—Henry Godwinn (20-6-2)

Inactive Wrestlers:  Mantaur (14-4)

Top Twenty Singles Records (Minimum of Eight Matches):

1—Hunter-Hearst Helmsley (16-0)

2—Man Mountain Rock (15-0)

3—Waylon Mercy (11-0)

4—Jean-Pierre LaFitte (16-0-1)

5—Diesel (9-0-1)

6—Kama (24-1-1)

7—Shawn Michaels (17-1-1)

T8—The Undertaker (11-1)

T8—Savio Vega (11-1)

10—Bob Backlund (8-1)

11—Hakushi (23-3)

12—Lex Luger (8-1-1)

13—Mabel (11-2)

14—Razor Ramon (16-3-1)

15—King Kong Bundy (14-3)

16—Adam Bomb (18-3-3)

17—Duke Droese (13-3)

18—Bam Bam Bigelow (16-4)

19—Bret Hart (11-2-2)

20—Henry Godwinn (20-5-2)

Notables That Did Not Qualify:  Fatu (4-1)

Inactive Wrestlers That Would Qualify:  Mantaur (14-4)

Top Tag Teams (Minimum of Eight Matches)

1—Owen Hart & Yokozuna (13-0-1)

2—Men on a Mission (18-2)

3—The Smoking Gunns (19-3-1)

4—The Blu Brothers (14-2-2)

5—The Heavenly Bodies (5-4)

Notables That Did Not Qualify:  The Bushwhackers (4-0), Tekno Team 2000 (3-0)

Inactive Tag Teams:  The Allied Powers (17-1), Bob Holly & the 1-2-3 Kid (5-3), The New Headshrinkers (4-3-3)

Top Ten in Televised Match Appearances (Iron Worker Award):

T1—The British Bulldog (35)

T1—Mabel (35)

3—Bob Holly (33)

T4—Lex Luger (30)

T4—Henry Godwinn (30)

6—Hakushi (28)

7—Owen Hart (27)

T8—Adam Bomb (26)

T8—Kama (26)

T8—Razor Ramon (26

Most Appearances by Show:  RAW-Owen Hart (11); Superstars-Mabel and Henry Godwinn (11); The Action Zone-Barry Horowitz (12); Wrestling Challenge (for matches not shown on The Action Zone)-The British Bulldog, Hakushi, and Duke Droese (4)

Up Next:  WWF Superstars from September 2, 1995!