James Dixon: These matches have all been covered already by Arnold Furious on the respective SummerSlam shows that they came from, but will do them again for posterity anyway. Well that, and I wanted to watch Hart-Perfect again.
The Mega Powers vs. The Mega Bucks
We start off with the main event from the first SummerSlam, which took place at MSG in August 1988. It doesn’t look like MSG. Usually it is so distinctive with the lighting and the positioning of the entranceway and the like, but it just looks like any other arena here, the lighting is so bright. It looks better, just not like MSG. Jesse Ventura is the guest referee for the match as Hogan’s quest to steal Savage’s spotlight continues! This was Savage’s only real opportunity to get in a pay-per-view title defence, what with Survivor Series and Royal Rumble following with their multi-man formats, and yet he didn’t even get to headline once on his own as champion. Everywhere that Savage went in 1988-89, Hogan was right there with him, sticking his ample beak in. Savage starts this with Andre, but the big guy isn’t in for long before DiBiase takes over. That’s because Andre was completely immobile by this point and was near enough worthless in the ring. DiBiase has to carry this for his team, though he is more than capable. Hogan and Savage get the better of DiBiase, and a big Hogan clothesline sends him flying. Double teams and quick tags continue the Mega Powers’ impressive start, and they have dominated as expected. Andre comes in and drops four big butt drops on Hogan as the Mega Bucks turn the tide, and he locks on a nerve hold to wear him down further. Andre chokes Hogan with his singlet strap while Ventura is distracted, and then DiBiase comes in to continue the assault. While DiBiase is boring me with a rest hold, I just want to point out that Superstar Billy Graham is NOT a good commentator. I am struggling just suffering him for one match, he sounds like Dusty Rhodes after a lobotomy. I haven’t seen the show for a long time, but I imagine SummerSlam ‘88 is a tough one to watch. DiBiase gives Savage a beating, but misses a falling elbow from the middle. Savage gets the tag to Hogan, and he suplexes DiBiase and clotheslines Andre down. The crowd goes crazy as Savage goes up top, but Andre gets his boot up to prevent the elbow as Hogan has a sleeper locked on DiBiase. It’s a great little sequence, and the crowd stay really vocal throughout, and are actually louder for Savage than they are for Hogan. Both of the Mega Powers end up down on the outside, and Elizabeth and Heenan both get on the apron. In a famous spot, Elizabeth takes off her skirt and flashes her arse, then parades across the ring, as Andre, DiBiase, Ventura, Virgil and Heenan all look on in shock. I can only imagine the reaction Savage must have had when he was first broached about the idea. I am actually amazed that he let her go through with it. Hogan and Savage come back in and send Andre outside, then the flying elbow and legdrop combo beats DiBiase. It is pretty exciting bout and a perfectly acceptable main event style match, which deviates from the standard tag formula.
Final Rating: ***
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Mr. Perfect (c) vs. Bret Hart
Here we go! This legendary match comes from SummerSlam ‘91, and once again the event is staged at MSG. Gorilla Monsoon, Roddy Piper and Bobby Heenan make up the commentary team. Bret’s parents Stu and Helen Hart are both sat in the crowd for this. Before we get into the match, I just want to point out that Perfect has very curious hair today. It is shorter than usual and looks slightly odd. Little things distract me! The early going is great and Bret controls the opening exchanges by out-wrestling Perfect, as they work a bunch of quick spots out of a side headlock. They are not going hell-for-leather yet, but the sequences have all been really smooth and have flowed into one another, erm, perfectly. Bret wastes time setting up a stomp to the gut and Perfect comes back with a whip into the corner and a slam, but Bret kicks him off and gives him a slam back, only for Perfect to kick him off. Bret retaliates with a clothesline to the outside, as we take a breather. What an awesome sequence, beautifully executed and so quick. Bret rips Perfect’s singlet on the outside while bringing him back in the ring, which upsets me, because Perfect is not as good to watch without his full singlet on. It’s true, I promise. Perfect actually looks pretty wound up about it, and the subsequent vicious chop he gives Hart further reinforces to me that it was unintentional and he is pissed. Perfect sends Bret reeling from the apron into the railing, but back inside he unloads with punches and catches a roll-up for a near fall, only for Perfect to cut him off with a punch to the throat. Perfect gives Hart a hard posting and then hits the rolling neck snap, and gets a two count. For the record, even Piper comments on Perfect’s zany hair: “he looks like the wicked witch from the west”. He does, you know! Perfect continues to beat up Hart on the outside, but then they go toe-to-toe on the top of the buckles, before both falling down. The idea is that they are so evenly matched that everything they try is countered or copied. It is a great story. Perfect slaps Bret around in the corner, then puts on a sleeper. Bret fights out and goes for a crucifix pin, but Perfect drops down with a Samoan drop for a very close near fall. More chops from Perfect, and he sends Hart forwards into the buckles. He always took that so hard, it moved the ring. You know, the commentary team have REALLY helped make this match too. All three have superb chemistry together. The way they sell Hart kicking out of the Perfectplex is first rate. Bret comes back with atomic drops, and then biels Perfect across the ring so hard that he slides crotch first under the ropes and into the post. A suplex gets a close two count, as does a subsequent small package. The Russian legsweep gets another near fall for Bret and he goes to the backbreaker and elbow from the middle. Again, he only gets two. This crowd is ELECTRIC! There is a feeling of every single person in the arena willing Hart to win this thing. Bret kicks Perfect’s legs from under him and he goes for the Sharpshooter, but gets distracted by Coach, and Perfect kicks the rope into his balls. Perfect continues to go low with a kick and a legdrop to the groin. He tries the legdrop again, and Bret catches his foot and turns it into the Sharpshooter for the hugely popular win. I tell you what, a certain Earl Hebner rang the bell VERY quickly indeed. Honestly, you could sub that in for Montreal and not know the difference, that’s how fast he called for it. Anyway, that aside, the match is just as good as I remember it. Back and forth the whole time, all the spots flowed into one another and had a meaning and a purpose, and everything was just so smooth. An incredible bout, one of the best of its generation, and even more impressive considering Perfect was injured.
Final Rating: ****½
WWF Tag Team Championship
The Nasty Boys (c) vs. The Legion of Doom
We remain at SummerSlam ‘91 for the other title match on the show. There are no count outs or disqualifications in this. The Legion of Doom had been with the WWF for just over a year by this point, and by now the fans were clamouring for them to win the belts. The problem the WWF had was that when they first arrived, it was too early to have them work Demolition for the titles, but they had to get the belts off them due to Ax’s health, so put them back on the Hart Foundation. The Hart’s didn’t particularly need them by then, but they didn’t want to do a face-face match with the LOD and the Harts in case it damaged either’s popularity. So the Nasty Boys were giving the titles as a transition, to hold them for the LOD. I don’t think anyone thought it would take a year for them to win the titles though, and the result of this was a foregone conclusion. LOD jump the Nasties to start and Animal hits a powerbomb for an early two count. Hawk with an enzuigiri on Sags, followed by a shoulder block for two. The Nasties take over on Hawk by spraying him in the eyes with deodorant, and Sags throws a tray of drinks over him. This is not particularly bad, though it is hardly good, but after the last match it just doesn’t come close. It is mainly just a fairly dull heat segment on Hawk. I think LOD should have ran through the Nasties a’la Warrior with Honky at SummerSlam ‘88. That probably should have been on this tape as well, it’s a classic moment. I guess it was released at one of the many points where they had fallen out with Warrior. Also, why are they sticking to the rules here, if it is no DQ and count out? What was stopping Animal coming in and saving Hawk? Ok, they are faces, but even so, what is the Nasty Boy’s excuse? Maybe they forgot the rules. Animal gets the hot tag and hits a powerslam, but the Nasties double team him and Sags nails him with Jimmy Hart’s helmet for a near fall. Hawk has seen enough, and takes the helmet and waffles Knobbs with it on the outside and then Sags in the ring. The LOD then wipe out Sags with the Doomsday Device to become the champions, and as has been noted elsewhere, the first team to win the belts in AWA, WCW/NWA and the WWF. It was fairly rare to have two title changes on the same show, but this was another good decision. They really shook things up around this time, especially with Flair being added to the main event scene, then the departure of Warrior and scaling down of Hogan. Interesting times in the WWF, indeed. As for the match? It was nothing either way, it just happened.
Final Rating: *
The Mountie vs. The Big Bossman
So, the third match in a row from SummerSlam ‘91, and this is the culmination of a feud between two guys with law enforcement gimmicks. The stipulation is that the loser spends the night in jail. A lot of love is being showed to a mostly average SummerSlam ‘91 card, it has to be said. Ok, the last match was a title change and this one is somewhat unique, but there were better things that could have been featured. The Hart Foundation winning the tag titles at SummerSlam ‘90 or the superb Brainbusters-Hart Foundation match in ‘89 would have made this tape a true classic. I guess it would have become “The Bret Hart Show”, though that is hardly a bad thing. Bossman has the best of the early exchanges, until Mountie goes to the ideas. But it doesn’t slow Bossman for long, and he catches Mountie as he comes off the top and drops him with a spinebuster, before going to the neck vice. He breaks the hold when he is distracted by Jimmy Hart, allowing Mountie to nail him from behind with a double axe handle. It is just the usual spots between these two, and like I have said before; the Mountie was a boring wrestler. Even when he does something vaguely good, it still seems dull. He is exhausting to watch. Mountie hits a piledriver after a few attempts, and then goes to zap Bossman with his cattle prod while Jimmy Hart has the ref distracted, but Bossman moves out of the way. Bossman fires back and hits the Bossman Slam, but Mountie kicks out! It is surprising that they let Mountie kick out of that, it usually does the job. I guess it is a blood feud though. Mountie goes for a piledriver again, but Bossman stands up out of it an hits an Alabama slam for the win. The NYPD come to the ring post match and handcuff Mountie, leading him off to jail. It picked up at the finish, but the majority of the match was deathly dull because of The Mountie’s dire offense. He does sell getting taken to prison very well though.
Final Rating: ¾*
Hulk Hogan vs. Earthquake
The final match on the tape comes from SummerSlam ‘90, and was one of three “main events” on the show. What an awful choice. This is a slow, boring match lacking a proper finish. Quake had no right being in main events, he was no-where near the level of talent nor over enough to feud with Hogan. This tape has gone right down the can after a stunning start. We have to suffer Jimmy Hart again too! Seriously, he must have managed EVERYONE. The Big Bossman looks like a raging poof in the cap he is wearing. Tackle from Earthquake to start, and Hogan goes flying and regroups with Bossman on the outside. Hogan goes to the eyes and tries a slam, but has little success, and Quake stays on top, sending Hogan into the buckles. So far, it is the same as every Hogan match against a “monster” opponent. If you have seen one, you have seen them all, and probably won’t want to see another! Hogan finally knocks Quake down with a big punch, and he takes out Hart and Bravo in the process. The referee has lost all control, as Bossman and Hogan double team both Bravo and Quake in the ring, right in front of him. Bravo and Quake retaliate by giving Hogan a double slam. In any other match in this era, blatant outside interference like that would always result in a DQ. I am amazed they got away with that. But then again, it is Hogan isn’t it? He can seemingly cheat as much as he wants. Quake stays on Hogan, hitting an axe handle off the top and then putting on a Boston crab. After Hogan reaches the ropes to break it, Quake fires back with a slam, but then misses an elbow drop. Hogan goes for the slam on Quake again, but can’t do it. Why is he so obsessed with hitting the slam? From a kayfabe point of view, he has already slammed the much larger Andre the Giant, so what does he have to prove? Ah yeah, ego. Silly me. Bearhug from Quake, but Hogan punches his way out and hits a couple of shoulder blocks, but gets caught with a powerslam when he tries a crossbody. Quake hits the Vertical Splash but doesn’t go for the pin, choosing instead to hit it again. Hogan kicks out, and the crowd explodes, they were convinced it was over. If they really wanted to make Earthquake, it probably should have been. Though there was no chance of Hogan ever doing two clean jobs in a year. Hogan Hulks Up and hits the big boot, then finally manages the slam. He hits the legdrop, but Jimmy Hart breaks it up. Hogan brushes it off and throws Hart into Quake, and they both go outside the ring. Hogan follows and they brawl, and Hart accidentally hits Quake with his megaphone. Hogan slams Quake into a table on the outside, and then breaks the count for the win. A count out. After all that, it ends with a count out. It is a joke that there was no finish, but commercial business on the house shows precedes creative satisfaction every time. There have certainly been worse Earthquake, and indeed Hogan, matches than that, but it was still long and very slow.
Final Rating: *
Summary: In this era, SummerSlam generally leant itself to better matches than WrestleMania for some reason, and this tape is better than both of the Mania tapes that Coliseum put out around the same time. As noted, the match choices were questionable in places, though again superior to the Mania ones. There was no filler, everything was an important match at the time, even if the quality of the bouts was not always there. Worth buying for the opening two though, because this tape is better than both of the shows that they are from.