Steel Cage Match
The Ultimate Warrior (c) vs. Rick Rude
We start with this title match from SummerSlam ‘90. Rude was a good choice for Warrior’s first opponent on pay-per-view while WWF champion, because he was one of very few men to have ever beaten him, and he was capable of carrying him to a decent match. I adore Rick Rude, he is one of my top five of all time, but I don’t think the fans quite bought him as a credible challenger to the top title. He was always portrayed as on a level just below the main event while in the WWF, and didn’t have the credibility in that spot of say a DiBiase or a Savage. I am sure that played a part in his decision to leave the company, and he was certainly treated much better when he turned up in WCW the following year. In fact, he was involved in my favourite match ever, against Ricky Steamboat in an Iron Man Match at Beach Blast 92. Compared to their better matches together, this is only ok, but it does feature a little blood from Rude, and the odd impressive spot such as Rude hitting an axe handle off the top of the cage. As usual, Rude gets his ass out, giving the cheap seats a prime view of his chocolate starfish. Rude tries his best to get this over by taking all of Warrior’s moves, and for the most part he does succeed. There is not a great deal of drama for a cage match though, and Rude’s blue bar bout with Roddy Piper that turns up on a couple of comp tapes, was far more intense and much better all round.
Final Rating: **
Mr. Perfect vs. The Red Rooster
What kind of choice is this? If they wanted a Perfect match, I seem to recall he had a half decent one at SummerSlam ‘91. We get the bonus of new commentary from Gorilla Monsoon and Alfred Hayes, and the latter says “you can’t help but use the word perfect to describe him”. About MR. PERFECT. Thank you for clarifying that, captain obvious! But anyway, that aside, why is this even on here!? If they had a full match then fine, it probably would have been decent, actually they did on Raw in 1993 and it was good fun, but Taylor injures his leg in this early on and they truncate the match down to little over 3-minutes. Hardly fitting for a “best of” is it?
Final Rating: ¾*
WWF Tag Team Championship
The Nasty Boys vs. The Legion of Doom
We go to SummerSlam ‘91 and 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: *
Kamala vs. The Undertaker
We go to Wembley Stadium and the monumental SummerSlam ‘92, for the next two matches. This is another strange choice. What else can we say in these books about Kamala? By his 1992-93 run, the guy was a joke as far as being a legitimate threat to anyone, and his heel run lasted all of five minutes. Having the heat vacuum Harvey Wippleman at ringside was never going to help him. This is an awful 4-minutes of wrestling that makes one embarrassed to be a fan of the sport. The WWF cartoon nonsense at its very worst, and we don’t even get a finish. Thank god Taker got better. Imagine if he sucked as bad as this for over 20 years!
Final Rating: DUD
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Bret Hart (c) vs. The British Bulldog
This is the very famous main event of SummerSlam ‘92 and for my money, is a frontrunner for greatest match of all time. It really had everything, from the enormous crowd to the superb in-ring action. The storyline going in was excellent too, with two family members, both babyfaces, competing to see who was better. It was so simple, but incredibly effective storytelling. The crowd was very much behind Bulldog, but Hart had an incredible army of fans too, and the atmosphere is absolutely electric. It is probably the most vociferous audience you are ever likely to hear. Listening to it again, it staggers me that WWE haven’t tried to run another major pay-per-view event in a massive UK stadium since. The argument against it is that the time difference would mean it had to be shown at an inconvenient time in the US, or on tape delay, and that would affect orders. I really don’t think it would, and the revenue generated from holding a show in such a monster setting, would surely offset any buy rates lost. Maybe not for something like WrestleMania, but for SummerSlam or even Survivor Series, it could work. You get a unique feeling when watching a perfect match, and you definitely get that here. It was no coincidence that the two greatest WWF matches at this point both came at the two shows with the biggest audience. The very best workers up their game and are able to perform at the very highest level. This match really defined Bret Hart as the finest worker in the company, and indeed of his generation. It has been well documented that Davey was out of shape and blown up during this, having come into the match off an injury which kept him out of the ring and the gym. The fact that Hart manages to carry and lead him into a bout of such stunning quality, is a testament to his abilities. It is probably his greatest match ever when that is taken into consideration. He has had a multitude of great bouts which are a level just below, and a few that were as good technically (against brother Owen Hart at WrestleMania X for example), but none that combined the in-ring stuff with the setting, atmosphere and emotion. Two other matches that Bret often gets the full 5* for are his cage match with Owen at SummerSlam ’94 and the famous WrestleMania XIII bout with Steve Austin -both of which are very different to this- but I don’t think either comes close. Actually, I think both are often slightly overrated, and I prefer the match he had with Austin at Survivor Series ’96 to either. When Furious reviewed this, he ummed and ahhed about the rating, complaining about the use of chinlocks to call spots. I thought he was nuts and I told him as much, because I don’t think thirty seconds of slight slowdown can ruin 30-MINUTES of pure perfection. This match is untouchable, and without question a clear and easy 5* rating. If you call yourself a wrestling fan and you have not seen this match, rectify the situation at once. Bret-Bulldog will be remembered long into the future, and may be the best bout ever to take place on British shores. Anyone in doubt? Just listen to that crowd when Davey wins the title. That reaction will likely never be matched.
Final Rating: *****
Summary: I call foul play from Columbia, because any hour long tape featuring a five star match taking up half of it, is going to get a strong rating. It is almost like they are cheating, putting on any random tosh before bringing it back around with a classic to see us out. Assuming you have never seen any of it before, there is certainly a lot to recommend this tape. Outside of the legendary final match, the cage bout is fun enough, and the rest is short so doesn’t offend. Another strong SummerSlam ‘best of’ release from the WWF. Recommended.