SummerSlam ’99

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James Dixon: We are in Minnesota, home of one Jesse Ventura, and the Governor is the special guest referee for the triple-threat main event tonight. Ventura gets into a debate with Triple H about following the rules, to which Hunter reacts like a petulant, whiny child. That is the way he came across to me for the entirety of his heel run prior to winning the WWF Title for the first time, with him acting like he had some sort of God-given right to the gold. Frankly after some of his performances from 1995 through 1997, he is lucky he even kept his job.

SummerSlam ’96

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Arnold Furious: We’re in Cleveland, Ohio. Hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross & Mr Perfect. Lawler has a match tonight so he’s not commentating. Jake Roberts actually turned up for this PPV so Lawler’s match is still on. Ahmed Johnson’s isn’t however as his kidney problems caused him to forfeit the IC title.

 

The following is from the pre-show Free For All:

 

There’s a beach party going on, which gives Sable an excuse to run around in a bikini. Aldo Montoya wearing his head-strap and shorts makes him look like an uber-dork. Interesting that Marlena gets a huge pop for wearing her skimpy beachwear. She’d end up being the driving force behind Goldust’s face turn. Todd Pettengill makes creepy remarks about wanking into Sunny’s bikini. I’m not even joking about that. Steve Austin walks past for his match and threatens to kick Pettengill’s ass. His attitude is starting to pay off and he gets a decent reaction. Shame about his generic heel music.

 

Steve Austin vs. Yokozuna
Yoko was a WHALE by this point. Before the year was out he’d be sent home to get into a better shape than “round”. Austin flips him off, which would normally lead to a Stunner, but he runs into a Samoan Drop. Yoko goes for the Banzai Drop but he’s too fat and pulls the top rope off, allowing Austin to roll him up for the win. They’d done a similar finish before, most notably at WrestleMania X against Bret Hart, but this was the best version of it. I still don’t understand why they couldn’t rig the rope to do that at ‘Mania X. It would have made more sense than Yoko’s sudden inability to stand. Perhaps he suffered from an inner ear infection or something?
Final Rating: *

 

JR interviews the Undertaker and Paul Bearer. Jim mentions the Boiler Room Brawl is no DQ and asks Bearer about the match. Bearer mentions how the urn will be safe because he’ll be holding it. Hmm. In retrospect that sounds suspicious.

 

Backstage, Jerry Lawler appears to have shit in the pool so they call TL Hopper to sort it. Turns out it’s a chocolate bar. Poor guy. I bet he misses SMW already. They switch to a shot of Sunny sunbathing and WOW. That’s the money shot right there.

 

SummerSlam ’95

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Arnold Furious: We’re in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the hottest show of the summer. I think the WWF realised the card for this one might suck and switched out Shawn-Sid for Shawn-Razor in a ladder rematch late in the game, just to give the workrate fans and the spot fans something to get excited about. The rest of the card leaves a lot to be desired. Mabel takes his shot at WWF champion Diesel in the main event. Vince McMahon was considering switching the title here too until the Kliq got their way. I assume the discussion went like this:

Mabel wins WWF title.

???

Profit!

Even the sure-fire, go-to stars were lumbered with horrible matches. Bret is stuck with Isaac Yankem, the wrestling dentist, which is Kane pre-mask and pre-talent. Alundra Blayze’s run of exciting matches against Bull Nakano ends with new challenger Bertha Faye. Vince can at least get his “fatty” jollies from booking the women’s title on a plump lump. Taker wrestles Kama… again. In a casket match… again. The matches I’m most looking forward to are Triple H’s debut against Bob Holly and Skip vs. Barry Horowitz, as that had the best storyline attached to it. Sad state of affairs, really. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler. Dean Douglas will be providing analysis. That’s Shane Douglas, wasted in his home town, with a professor (or something) gimmick.

SummerSlam ’94

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Arnold Furious: Before the show this tape details the softball game that the WWF had against the Chicago media. This is mostly boring but for two things. 1. Former professional baseball candidate Randy Savage clearing the bases with a home run and 2. Shawn Michaels pitching the whole thing with his shirt off, thus cementing his sex symbol status. We move on to Leslie Nielson, who’d been hired to locate the real Undertaker. It’s basically Frank Drebin in a series of mildly funny skits. The dreadful third Naked Gun movie came out in 1994 so Nielson’s run in the sun was coming to an end.

 

We’re in Chicago, Illinois. Todd Pettengill announces that Diesel and Shawn Michaels won the tag titles just last night. It was one hell of a weekend for wrestling as 2 days before SummerSlam, Shane Douglas won the NWA title and threw it down, thereby killing the title’s credibility forever and announcing ECW to the world. Also, Vince McMahon had been acquitted by a jury earlier in the month and the steroid trial was over. Relieved, Vince strolled back into the WWF and behind the mic and hosts this show with Jerry Lawler. The arena host is Randy Savage, in one of his last appearances for the company. Before the year was out he’d be competing for WCW. Lawler points out Davey Boy Smith in attendance. Acquittal = the return of fired wrestlers with substance abuse problems.

 

SummerSlam ’92

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Arnold Furious: The WWF had all manner of booking conundrums in 1992. The steroid allegations had forced Hulk Hogan to take a leave of absence, one that seemed necessary to protect his babyface status as well. Crowds were finally starting to turn on the image of Hulkamania, one perhaps suited to the 80s more so than the cynical 90s. The WWF’s original plan was to simply replace Hogan with Sid Justice. They were both big, blonde muscular guys who could connect with the crowd. No worries. Just swap one for the other. But Sid failed a drugs test and that was the last thing the WWF needed with the federal government breathing down their neck. Sid ended up quitting rather than taking his suspension and the WWF found themselves with a main event void, a Hogan-sized hole that was damn near impossible to fill. They resorted to bringing back The Ultimate Warrior. In desperate times, men do desperate things. In the interim they decided Randy Savage, a former champion and one of the few babyface main eventers the company had left, would be champion. So he took the belt off Flair and the WWF pondered their next move. The one they went for was somewhat radical. They’d turn Warrior heel, align him with Ric Flair and start throwing babyface challengers at him, reversing their standard “superman face champion” routine, quite possibly until the actual return of Hulk Hogan. A genuine saviour who could bring the WWF back to the promised land and a third bout of Hulkamania. Of course we’ll never know how any of this would have been greeted by the fans. Warrior decided he didn’t want to turn heel, after this show was already booked, and the bookers opted instead to turn the setup into a big Flair scheme. Sometimes booking on the fly creates a more interesting picture. This way Flair’s faked support for one of Savage or Warrior turned into his own campaign to reclaim the title, which is exactly what happened. Savage’s injuries during SummerSlam resulted in him losing the belt to Flair shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, because of Warrior’s impending, but not really, turn, they had to book an alternative main event for SummerSlam too. At the time a heel simply didn’t go over in a main event. Send them home happy remained the mantra. As luck would have it, SummerSlam was in England at Wembley Stadium. So the incredibly popular British Bulldog got picked to go on last. His popularity was such that the WWF felt the need to put his matches last on almost every British tour and felt he could hold up his end in a main event. Bret Hart, on the grounds that he was IC champion, happened to slot into the main event. The plan was never to put the WWF title on Bret, as far as I can tell, but rather seek other options. However his performance against Bulldog was so spectacular, so earth-shatteringly awesome, that he forced his way into contention and was WWF champion before their next PPV, Survivor Series. 1992 was a time of great change, but it’s Bret’s performance on this show that effects the greatest change in the WWF’s policy. With the steroid monsters unable to compete in Vince’s perfect world, he has to rely on the workhorses. This show proved he could. We’re in London, UK at the historic Wembley Stadium, so this is the first WWF PPV to take place outside of North America. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan.

SummerSlam 2016

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Arnold Furious: What a weekend this has been for professional wrestling. Like with WrestleMania weekend earlier in the year promotions decided to piggyback on WWE’s popularity and we saw PPV efforts from Ring of Honor, EVOLVE (twice) and New Japan’s Super J Cup. WWE themselves were busy and put on an NXT TakeOver event the same weekend. Normally a weekend is a busy time for wrestling but these big weekends are becoming commonplace. Next year ‘Mania weekend has a ridiculous number of live shows including two UK promotions running in Orlando. This is frankly insane but if you love wrestling these big weekends are wonderful experiences. I’m not short on time today so I’m going to include the Kickoff show in this review. It is the second biggest PPV of year!

 

We’re in Brooklyn, New York. Hosts for Kickoff are Renee Young, Booker TJerry Lawler and Lita. They chat about the matches and such and Booker tells us about the time he got a hole in one (it was a par 3).

SummerSlam ’91

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Arnold Furious: There are times when Vince McMahon realises his company is struggling and his usual approach is to grab it, and shake it up as hard as he can. In 1991 the company underwent some radical changes in personnel and in the card positioning of existing talent. The WWF’s transitional periods are always entertaining because anything can happen. Once Vince has the mindset that his company must change, it does. The shake up doesn’t happen overnight but after WrestleMania VII it started in earnest. New faces on this show included Ricky Steamboat, IRS and Colonel Mustafa (all returning talent, admittedly) and Sid Justice, with new pushes evident for Bret Hart, Tugboat (having turned heel) and LOD. The shake-up would continue after this show, with Mr. Perfect taking a year off, Slaughter being slowly moved back into obscurity after his run at the top and Warrior being fired immediately after the event. More details on that later. Another key for Vince was expanding “sports entertainment” and that would happen here with the live “wedding” of Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth. We’re in New York City at Madison Square Garden; the WWF’s home venue. It’s their first PPV event at MSG since SummerSlam ’88. When things are going wrong, you go home and rebuild. Vince is overblown on hype duty even for him, which is saying something: “Nuptials turn to napalm in the match made in HEEEELLLLLLLLLLL”. Hosts are Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan and Roddy Piper in a trial three-man team. Heenan is far more effective than Piper, which is why they went with Monsoon and Heenan in future.

SummerSlam 2000

 

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Lee Maughan: From the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. Hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

 

Right to Censor vs. Too Cool & Rikishi
This is Right to Censor’s pay-per-view debut, but they don’t have Val Venis with them yet. Rikishi and Too Cool do have two of the renamed Goodfather’s hos with them though, one of whom you’ll know as Victoria, later to become the valet of Stevie Richards, oddly enough. Like most pay-per-view undercard matches of the day, this was pretty short, just a shade over five minutes in fact. The babyfaces still get to do most of their trademark stuff, namely butt splashes in the corner and dancing like goofballs, but as Scotty 2 Hotty looks to finish with the Worm, he eats a Steviekick from Richards for the pin.
Final Rating:

– Earlier tonight on Sunday Night Heat, Kurt Angle refused to answer any questions regarding his kissing Stephanie McMahon on SmackDown!

SummerSlam ’90

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Arnold Furious: The Ultimate Warrior had become the WWF’s champion at WrestleMania VI and yet the WWF never seemed sold on his abilities to carry the company forward. This would become an ongoing trend under the Vince McMahon regime. A desire to see fresh faces in the main events and yet a lack of trust in newcomers. With Warrior, the suspicions were probably correct. Warrior wasn’t a great wrestler and very rarely had good matches. He was mostly involved in short squash matches that didn’t expose his shortcomings. The WWF knew one guy who could get a good match out of him though: Rick Rude. The duo had a strong match at SummerSlam the previous year, and, convinced lightning could strike twice, they got a chance to repeat that match with Warrior as WWF champion. Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan had taken a few months off to try and give Warrior more exposure as champion and yet he was in the hottest angle in the WWF because of it. He’d been put out of action by Earthquake and now had a revenge match against him, which received equal billing as the WWF title match. While Warrior was champion, Hogan was still the WWF’s “go to” guy. Incidentally WCW around the same time was on a roll. They’d done great business with Flair vs. Sting on top and had just debuted Vader. Lex Luger was having good matches and their tag division was sensational, with The Steiner Brothers, Doom, Rock N’ Roll Express, Midnight Express and The Southern Boys. No wonder they didn’t mind losing The Road Warriors so much. We’re in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hosts are Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper. An unusual pairing perhaps with Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura having formed such a strong announce team in the past. Ventura was released around the time of this show after getting into a heated dispute with McMahon over image rights. Piper seemed like a custom made replacement; charismatic wrestler with an insight into the wrestling game. His career was winding down so commentary seemed a good route for him to go. I’m assuming Vince McMahon wanted to get control over Piper by doing commentary with him and trying to steer him in the right direction.

SummerSlam ’89

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Arnold Furious: The WWF sank some money into Hulk Hogan’s acting career in 1989. In retrospect that probably wasn’t the best move. In order to try and recoup some of the cash that went into funding his vehicle; No Holds Barred, they spent several PPV’s hyping it. Including SummerSlam, which is headlined by a tag match featuring Hogan & Beefcake against Savage & Zeus. The latter being actor Tiny Lister. No Holds Barred broke even, but was sufficiently disappointing for Vince McMahon to stay out of the movie business for quite some time afterwards. He just didn’t see the money in it. No Holds Barred is ok for a wrestling movie. It’s about as good as Piper’s wrestling film, Body Slam. In that it isn’t. Although to be fair to Hogan, No Holds Barred is probably the best movie he starred in (Rocky III doesn’t count). It was released in June, coming second on its opening weekend (to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). Because it was released in the summer, it got absolutely crushed by mega-huge studio releases; Star Trek V, Ghostbusters 2 and Batman in subsequent weeks. It’s performance at the box office is not reflected by the amount of time the WWF spent hyping it on TV.

 

We’re in East Rutherford, New Jersey (New York, basically). Hosts are Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura. Tony isn’t as bad as he’d get in WCW but Ventura still feels the need to run him down at every available opportunity. It’s like a test, and while he doesn’t fail, he just doesn’t convey the same emotions that Gorilla Monsoon gets over. Their plan with Tony seemed to be an attempt to go legit and have a sports announcer instead of a former wrestler call the action. Tony had been a minor league baseball announcer beforehand. Eventually the WWF would go for something similar in Jim Ross. Although, Ross was far more talented.