When looking to review a past SummerSlam your first move should be to begin looking through past cards, intent on finding the classic matches of yesteryear. Picking out the perfect match, one to dissect, to analyze with the benefit of hindsight in order to see what it has to tell you about the product we love so much, where we were and how far we’ve come. In doing this Mike and I agonized over ’92 with Davey Boy and Bret tearing down Wembley. Or maybe ’88 where Savage and Hogan teamed up to face both a living legend and one of the greatest heels in the history of the business. Of course you have to mention ’98, Undertaker and Austin who rode a highway to hell into SummerSlam to continue one of the greatest rivalries on the Attitude or any era. How about Shawn Michaels coming out of retirement for white hot revenge against his former brother at arms Triple H in a brutal street fight. After much debating we settled on ’95 where no body can say that Diesel and King Mable did not have a wrestling match that at one point started, and then shortly in the future ended. Excited yet…lets get into SummerSlam 1995, the thing that definitely happened.
By ’95 the then WWF were firmly into the New Generation. Gone were the men who had brought the company to great heights, business was down and Vince was looking for the next big thing. You could tell by the intro to this article that my expectation were not high as I sat down watch this classic. After I came to two conclusions:
Boy was I right, Diesel and Mable was travesty wrapped in a clusterfuck wrapped in a bowel obstruction. Slow and poorly paced without any decent looking offense, it also had one of the worst (if not the worst) ref bumps I’ve every seen and featured a run in save by a soon to depart WWF Lex Luger who was immediately hit and sent out of the ring by Diesel…the guy he was coming out to save. The match came to it’s merciful conclusion following a clothesline/shoulder tackle (it looked weird and that’s the only way to describe it) off the middle rope from the classic low flier Diesel. Throw in Isaac Yankem, the wrestling dentist and a dreadful casket match (is there any other kind) between Taker and Kama (who is easily the most impressive wrestler ever named after punctuation) and yeah…you’ve got a pretty painful PPV.
If you can sift out the the things I’ve just mentioned the rest of the card was pretty damn good.
The opening match between the 123 Kid and Hakushi was everything an opener should be, two great workers with impeccable timing putting on a show for an appreciative audience. Hakushi was particularly impressive. He had a great look, with a crisp and varied offense, it was a little distracting having Vince McMahon repeatedly call him “The Modern Day Kamikaze” but you can’t blame the man in the ring for that. The spot of the match, and probably the night was Hakushi doing a cartwheel into a moonsault over the ropes to the outside onto Kid. It was a thing of beauty. The match ended with Hakushi catching Kid’s Spinning Heel Kick (or Beauty Shot for you NXT fans) and countering with what Wikipedia calls a Nenbutsu Bomb (you see Micheal Cole you can learn all kinds of things about wrestling moves on the internet).
Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly followed and while it wasn’t near the quality of the previous it was a fine match that introduced the PPV crowd to one the future’s biggest stars. The future Game was highly touted and undefeated. Even though his character was silly, especially in hindsight, there is a great deal of charm in seeing a young talent take so fully to a role in this outlandish business that we so adore committing is everything.
The Smoking Gunns bumped around for the Blu Brothers in a short tag match. The Gunns were a steady if unspectacular fixture of this era and they did there job well. It was easy to see that Billy Gunn was full of potential and unsurprising that Vince spent most of the match confused as to which Blu Brother was which. At one point he remarked “you’d have to be a computer wiz to keep track of which one of these Blu twins are in the ring at all times” to which his broadcast partner Jerry Lawler said “would you really, I don’t see how computers could help you in any way with that”? Actually no, that was me that said that, I can’t remember what Lawler said. Gunn’s over Blu’s with the Sidewinder.
I loved Barry Horowitz v Skip of the Bodydonnas. I loved good old Barry coming out to Hava Nagila, I loved his sparkly blue suspenders, I loved his mullet. Seriously, I loved this story and I loved this match. The whole thing was wonderfully absurd on the surface, but the story line was one that the current product could use to jump start a lower card baby face at any moment. Barry never wins, I mean never and one day he scores a fluke pin on a heel the fans can’t stand. He goes on to do it again as uses this as jumping off point, maybe the announcers talk about him training more or about how he has matured as a competitor. You’ve turned an also-ran into a fan favorite player, it’s perfect. Of course this didn’t happen with Barry, he did win with a distraction role up but his rocket boots push was not to be. A guy can dream though.
Bertha Faye then defeated Alundra Blayze for the Women’s Title. Her name is Bertha and she is an over weight woman, that was about the gist of this match. There were a few nice spots, Alundra could really go when they gave her the chance, and it was nice to see a women’s match on a PPV but over all it just seemed like an excuse to make fun of a large woman and her tiny man (Harvey Wippleman). Very soon after women’s wrestling would disappear from WWF programming.
Kama and Undertaker was a punch and kick affair that lasted longer than it should have.
Bret and not yet Kane was a match between one of the greatest pure wrestlers of all time and a wrestling dentist who wrestled with the grace and skill of an actual dentist.
Shawn and Razor had an excellent follow up to there Mania ladder match that featured two things that the current roster could take note of. They didn’t go to the ladder too early, they began the match by wrestling and they stuck to (mostly) logical spots in regards to the ladder. I have read that these early ladder matches simply do not hold up in a post TLC world but I couldn’t disagree more. In this match the ladder wasn’t the star it just helped tell the tale. In modern ladder matches you can’t help but think “what will they do with the ladder next”, but in regards to this match I found myself focused on what Razor and Shawn were willing to do to get there hands on the IC Belt. Suspension of disbelief is the best gift you can give to a wrestling fan.
All terrible matches considered SummerSlam 95 was a pleasant surprise. Yes the haze of absolute nonsense is thick my friends but push on. Beneath the ridiculousness of a competitors entrance music that consists of nothing but the sound of dental equipment lay the sold and sometimes spectacular ring work of the undercard. Peering out from underneath the enormous purple parachute pants of King Mable is a template for in ring story telling brought to you by a couple Kliq pals. There is plenty to cringe at here but also enough to enjoy.
Diesel’s theme music sounds like the theme to the TV show Rosanne.
Dean Douglas was a part of the show with some very cheesy class room segments where he would give grades for the wrestlers. This was done to set up a feud with Razor Ramon. But before this he taught us the meaning of the words “vivify” and “bad”.
Vinny Mac Fact #1 – Manuver Count (the number of times Vince told us to look at or was impressed by a wrestling move he couldn’t name) was a very respectable 8.
Vinny Mac Fact #2 – Vince seems to always want us to “look at this” or “watch this”, we know Vince it’s a visual medium we are watching. He also likes to ask “whats going to happen now?” which is a very valid question indeed.
Davey Boy was shown arriving back stage. This was a big deal because he had suckered Diesel into being his partner before turning on him shortly before the PPV. This means that he must get involved in the main event right? Nope. The bookers must never have heard of Chekhov’s Gun.
Best Mullet of the Night: Bob “Spark Plugg” Holly, even with so very many mullets it wasn’t even close.