WWF SUMMERSLAM SHOWDOWN 1992:
* Yet another prelude to a SummerSlam, this time the Wembley Stadium show with Savage/Warrior & Bret/Bulldog as the featured matches! And tonight we get some truly wild dream matches, including the epic Ultimate Warrior/Macho Man vs. The Nasty Boys match! Plus Ric Flair fights Tito Santana, Tatanka vs. Kato, and the Bushwhackers for some reason getting a WWF Tag Title shot against Money Inc.!
RIC FLAIR (w/ Mr. Perfect) vs. “EL MATADOR” TITO SANTANA:
* So the whole deal with Flair is that he’s not wrestling at SS, but he’s got Savage & Warrior both convinced that Mr. Perfect was hired to be in the other’s corner. This gave the main event some extra “oomph”, as fans weren’t sure if there was gonna be a heel turn or not- would one guy let his desire for the gold let him turn to the dark side? Matador here was BEYOND being de-pushed, now given a gimmick to add some more life to his career.
Tito outwrestles Flair to start, getting fired up after a shove and clotheslining the s--- out of him, knocking him over the ropes and barrelling him over on the floor! Flair begs off and stalls, but comes back with a HUGE chop that Tito sells as a knockdown, then dumps him as Heenan really puts over how much the WWF Title means to justify why someone would get Perfect. Perfect adds a kick to the ribs to emphasize that point, and Flair drops a knee and stops a comeback with an elbow… but gets tripped and put in the Figure-Four! Heenan goes apoplectic as Tito keeps getting two-counts and Hebner kicks Flair’s hand off the rope (that spot always confused me), but Perfect helps him get two hands on and that’s good enough. But Tito just drags him into another one- Flair desperately makes the ropes and they slug away at each other, seemingly botching a collision but a Flair Flop gets the crowd right back into it. Tito rolls Flair up from a Figure-Four attempt while Heenan puts over how sharp he is tonight.
Flair punches him and goes up, but you know what happens from there. Clotheslines and back body drop have Flair on the ropes and it’s EL PASEO DE MUERTE! The jumping forearm to the hunched-over guy’s head, to evoke a rapier going into a bull or whatever! 1..2… and Perfect pulls Tito off like an absolute jackass, lol. Heenan presumes that Tito “musta hit a wet spot in the ring and just SLID”. Tito goes for Perfect, and when Flair rolls him up for it, Tito rolls over and Hebner nearly counts that down until they desperately release (boy that woulda been awkward- Hebner was counting Tito down but kept going when they rolled over, counting it as Flair’s shoulders being down). Another Tito rollup gets two. Flair begs off but gets the ten punches- Flair goes to the eyes but Flops. Flair Flip & clothesline to the floor, then a suplex back in gets two. Flair’s so far on the ropes that Perfect just trips Tito up, and then SMASHES his knee with the chair while Hebner’s off with Flair. Flair gets the Figure-Four, and after a minute of agonizing struggle, Hebner calls it at (13:57).
Great selling from both guys- Tito was done as far as his push went, but he still knew how to sell to feed his comebacks, and several times he did dead-perfect falls off of Flair’s stuff. Both guys are such naturals in their role as heel and comeback-crazy babyface. Like, they only did the most basic stuff, including Flair’s Usual Hits, but it looked good and even the botch-y bits were immediately pulled off by Flair’s selling. Though I question the booking sense of having Ric Flair cheat to beat TITO SANTANA, given Flair’s gonna be the champion in a few weeks, but I guess it pulls off the story of “Mr. Perfect guarantees you a win at SummerSlam”.
Rating: ***1/4 (very good match constructed from the basics- one-sided in favor of Tito but had fun moments and good cheating)
TATANKA vs. KATO (w/ Mr. Fuji):
* Tatanka was SUPER-new to the company at this point, while Kato was way past due, as I don’t remember the Orients being around at all when I started regularly watching in early ’92. He’s in big baggy red pants here, and still has a manager, so he comes off as “a name” and not just a jobber. But he certainly is one. Tatanka’s going against the Berzerker at SummerSlam (also managed by Fuji), but that match never takes place due to I believe John Nord’s flakiness.
They trade basic hiptosses and stuff to start, Tatanka clotheslining Kato over the top. Kato uses White Guy Martial Arts to come back in the ring, but misses a charge and Tatanka uses more basics- Heenan suggests his war cry is a vulgarity he can’t repeat on television, and Tatanka hits an atomic drop and clotheslines, but gets tossed over the top. Fuji jabs him with the cane (“He went to grab Fuji’s cane, but his hand slipped and it went into his stomach! From my angle, you could see it!”). Kato works the tummy and adds a bunch of shots, hitting two chinlocks in succession, Tatanka fighting out of each- the second try sticks and it’s a double clothesline. Tatanka does a War Dance, hits a bunch of chops, then a Flying Tomahawk Chop & the Reverse Fallaway Slam for the win (8:40). Fuji comes in but gets chopped down as well, taking his best “old man” bump.
Rating: *1/2 (Really basic, forgettable match, based almost entirely off of chops and first-year wrestling class stuff)
NAILZ vs. KEN WAYNE:
* Nailz has one of wrestling’s greatest underrated looks- a big blobfish of a guy, but he just looks like a demented, eleven-fingered inbred psychopath you’d never want to meet in a million years. But speaking of looks, HOLY S--- look at Ken Wayne- the shortest, dumpiest, man-tittiest, mullet-iest jobber look I’ve ever seen. I was gonna say he was a hero but then I read his Wikipedia bio- he had CP and went to jail.
Nailz’s act is all down right away- he assumes the position for the ref pat-down, and nearly everything he does has this herky-jerky, inhuman look to it. Heenan even notes he crawls under the bottom rope like he’s escaping. Literally every move Nailz does is choking, then Wayne takes a monster bump over the top rope. Bobby laughs as Wayne gets his head caught in the ropes and Nailz just yanks away on it. Clothesline and one-armed choke-sleeper finishes at (3:30). Hebner gets tossed and Wayne is strangled with the nightstick as Nailz really pulls off being a dangerous loon. Which ended up being true!
Rating: DUD (almost only choking, but watching a pedophile being choked to death is oddly cathartic)
Mean Gene interviews the Undertaker & Paul Bearer, who essentially promise to murder Kamala. But more artistically than that. Taker talking about “the remains of Kamala” is pretty great s----talking, though. Then we run down the Savage/Warrior feud, with Flair & Perfect getting involved. It was pretty great seeing the two top babyfaces being driven wild with paranoia and aggression when a united front was necessary. Which leads us to…
“MACHO MAN” RANDY SAVAGE & THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR vs. THE NASTY BOYS (Brian Knobs & Jerry Saggs, w/ Jimmy Hart):
* This is a pretty wild dream match- the two top guys in the WWF at the time, up against the floundering Nasty Boys. They hadn’t been up to much since losing the Tag Titles at last year’s SummerSlam, and were about to be turned babyface before just disappearing. Warrior is tragically wearing a flesh-colored singlet. Savage’s neon “every color” jacket is amazing, especially with the hot pink tassles all the way down the sleeves like that. His actual in-ring gear is more subdued- black, blue & green alternating with neon yellow & pink. Like Lou Thesz woulda worn.
The faces can’t even decide who gets to start and nearly get into a brawl, so Hebner grandstands and DEMANDS Savage “get out!”. Saggs jumps the Warrior but gets the shoulderblock and a ton of clotheslines. Savage won’t help him from a double-team, but he hits a double-DDT and gives Savage a rude tag. Savage gets caught up by Saggs, but promptly elbows Knobs and hits his jabs and slams both Nasties, then hits a Double Axehandle off the top to bowl them both over! Savage hits another one on Saggs, tags Warrior, and now WARRIOR does one, trying to show him up! Knobs knocks Warrior into Savage and they immediately scrap, Warrior getting clotheslined out when he’s distracted.
The Nasties hit elbows and other basic stuff to control, but Warrior comes back with two double-clotheslines- another one sends both over the top. Savage goes against Knobs, but the ref is bumped and Saggs uses the motorcycle helmet to kill him. Warrior goes for Jimmy Hart, but Flair & Perfect run down and kick HIS ass, while the Nasties beat Savage down on the other side, crushing him with a chairshot to the head. Hebner finally recovers and the Nasties get the win by count-out (9:17). Savage finally recovers enough to waste the Nasties while they celebrate, killing Jimmy and using the helmet to take out Knobs & Saggs and celebrate in the ring to at least send the fans home a BIT happy.
Rating: ** (Total f--- finish, and almost half the match was a beat-down outside, but it was pretty good “partners who hate each other” psychology and one-upsmanship. The Nasties played their role just fine- they’re big ugly brawlers with big ugly moves, and didn’t hold anything back)
RICK “THE MODEL” MARTEL vs. JOEY MAGGS:
* Joey was a longtime jobber in WCW for many years, but I’m largely unfamiliar with his work. He’s a squat, unimpressive-looking guy with a mullet and a pink singlet.
Martel wins a few grapples and celebrates, resulting in Sherri coming down to admire him. He flirts back (ATTABOY), but gets rolled up for two. S---, he just kicked out of the 2010s’ most devastating move! Infuriated, he clotheslines Maggs down, chokes away, and hits a backbreaker to set up the Boston Crab at (2:42).
Rating: DUD (just a quick squash- half of it was posing)
KAMALA (w/ Dr. Harvey Whippleman & Kim Chee) vs. BURT STYLES:
* Jobber match for Kamala to show off before his match with the Undertaker- this feud pretty well finished off his credibility as a wrestler, and was the first “Taker vs. Freak of the Moment” feud, to be followed by oh SO many others.
Kamala greets the jobber’s charges with a shoulderblock and a kick, and easily chops him around. Kamala’s at least wrestling like what his character is- an uneducated savage. Overhead chops, tosses, awkwardly stomping about while slapping his tummy, etc. Splash finishes, of course accidentally pinning him the wrong way a few times (2:29).
Rating: DUD (basic jobber match full of simple stuff)
MONEY INCORPORATED (Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. THE BUSHWHACKERS (Luke & Butch):
* Money Inc. are facing the Legion of Doom (who bail pretty much the second SummerSlam is over) at SS. Ted is running down his career as a top tag guy, giving IRS some credibility that he’d go to a long career as the most dreadfully boring midcarder in history, with the Bushwhackers in the mandatory “Comedy Babyfaces” role. But the bloom was WAY off the rose for them by this point- they were barely above jobbers in 1992, having lost one too many times, and been used so sparingly for a while, to have anything of value left.
Money Inc. attack at the bell, but earn some ass-bitings as a result, and IRS is befuddled by Butch and DiBiase accidentally elbowdrops him. Their heads are smashed together and they bail after a double-clothesline to Ted as the ‘Whackers are dominating. Ted jumps Luke and dumps him, letting IRS strangle him. They take over with slow, plodding stuff and both do chinlocks, but a double-clothesline sets up the weakest “hot tag” ever to Butch, the crowd “squealing” with piped-in noise while not a single person on-camera is even moving. Butch clotheslines everyone and they hit the Battering Ram on IRS, but DiBiase drops an elbow to break up the pin. Butch drops a fist on IRS, but Jimmy Hart actually LEAPS INTO THE RING for the distraction, nearly getting his coat ripped off, but IRS lands a knee right to the kidneys for the three (5:49).
Man, they booked a finish like THAT in a Bushwhackers match? In 1992? With guys who are getting the Tag Titles again soon? Pretty bizarre. The match was pretty dreadful even with Money Inc. on most of the offense, as they do restholds and a lot of “pause for effect, then hit an elbow”-type basic stuff as everyone is sleepwalking here.
Rating: 1/2* (very poor performance, even considering it’s a Bushwhacker match)
BRET “HITMAN” HART vs. SKINNER:
* Bret’s “Fighting Champion” gimmick abounds here, as he gets a warm-up match for his Bulldog bout at SS by wrestling Skinner, whose credibility had also been shattered by this point- he was very, VERY clearly at the bottom of the heel pecking order, jobbing to Owen Hart in seconds at WrestleMania VIII and not doing much else. I mean, you always need guys like that, though- a heel on the low end of his career, throw a silly gimmick on him, and BAM- instant JTTS. In the “Jobber Match” era, it allowed you to fake a Star vs. Star match once in a while until the fans stopped buying it.
They do a quick chain-wrestling bit (Skinner sure is good at chain-counters for a wildman who wrestles gators- do headscissors and wristlocks work on the American alligator?), Skinner dumping Bret and wrapping his fist in an “alligator clip” (a string of some kind) and beating him on the outside. Bret’s selling of that is great, and Skinner does some good sleight-of-hand inside the ring to choke away, always blocking the ref with his body. Skinner grinds away on the neck and drops a leg on Bret’s crotch as the pace slows way down, Bret reversing an abdominal stretch to his own, but getting dumped using the ropes. Vince & Bobby agree that it was probably a mistake to take on a “dangerous opponent” so soon before SummerSlam. Bret sells away, but pops up after a shoulderbreaker and catches Skinner coming off the top and slugs away, hitting the leg sweep & backbreaker, but runs into Skinner’s boot. Skinner drops the leg over the crotch again as they suggest Bret “does not look sharp out there!”, but he comes to life and snaps on the Sharpshooter from there, as Heenan declares he was “playin’ possum- what kind of MIND GAMES are going on here!?” as the ref calls for the bell at (8:52). I believe that same spot set up the dramatic Sharpshooter at the PPV, too.
Pretty basic “filler” match, Skinner doing some good cheating early on but settling down with crowd-killing “stand on the neck” stuff at a slow pace before Bret hit a couple of things and did a reversal for the finish. Mostly “one guy gets his ass kicked but wins the match” thing that isn’t super-effective at putting a guy over- comes off more lazy than anything.
Rating: ** (not a big effort from Bret, though Skinner hit some solid stuff)
All in all, an interesting show for unusual matches, but pretty weak on wrestling save for the opener, as guys were just putting on boring affairs with too much resting or “stand around and slowly hit basic strikes”. Flair/Tito was a good showcase of just how good both guys were even for basic TV wrestling, and the Nasty Boys taking on the future Ultimate Maniacs is a true rarity, but it’s otherwise pretty skippable.