Sunday, 18 January 2015

PPV REVIEW: WWF Summerslam 1995

WWF / WWE - Summerslam 1995 - Event poster
August 27, 1995
Pittsburgh Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In any conversation about the darkest moments of WWE's otherwise illustrious history, it rarely takes long for talk to turn to the summer of 1995. Having captured the King of the Ring crown just a few months earlier in Philadelphia, the newly re-dubbed King Mabel headed back to Pennsylvania for his inevitable title clash against long-reigning champion, Big Daddy Cool Diesel.

That such a match was the headline attraction of perhaps the second or third biggest show of the year perhaps says volumes about the kind of all-time low the Titan Sports brand had sunk to.

But was it really all that bad? Let's find out, shall we.

The World Wrestling Federation, for over 50 years....
The revolutionary force, in Sports Entertainment.



With that old, familiar signature out of the way, Todd Pettengill gave us a run down of the biggest matches on tonight's card, namely the aforementioned WWF Championship match, the Razor/HBK ladder match, and the Undertaker/Kamala casket match. 

From there, Vince McMahon made this writer's heart smile a little with his usual Welcome everyone! greeting, inviting fans to what was then the largest crowd ever assembled inside the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Either Diesel/Mabel was a bigger draw than most of us give it credit for, or there wasn't much going on in Pittsburgh in 1995. 

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Hakushi battled 123 Kid in an awesome opening match
Either way, Jerry 'The King' Lawler, McMahon's broadcast partner for the evening, was certainly excited about it, and seemed fairly confident that big King Mabel would leave Pennsylvania victorious, just like he had done back in June at the 95 King of the Ring.

123 Kid vs. Hakushi
Making his last pay per view appearance as a fully-fledged babyface, 123 Kid went toe-to-toe with the also-soon-to-turn Hakushi in a very good opening match. 

Before this one got underway, we were reminded about Hakushi's loss at the hands of perennial jobber Barry Horowitz on a recent episode of Superstars, more of which later. 

Hoping to redeem himself, the man in white took it to the kid in a fast paced contest where pseudo martial arts and high-flying wrestling combined to create a great little match that really got the Pittsburgh crowd fired up.

Now flying solo following the retirement of former manager, Shinja, Hakushi countered the Kid's spinning heel kick attempt with a one-handed powerbomb to pick up the victory and bring the second best match on the whole card to an abrubt finish.
Your Winner: Hakushi

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Hakushi vs. 123 Kid
Backstage, Doc Hendrix caught up with a rather smug-looking King Mabel. In an over-excited performance to rival his backstage antics at the last In Your House, Hendrix was desperate to uncover the King's game plan for his title match against big Diesel, not that Mabel was giving anything away. Instead, he simply hinted that the recent Davey Boy Smith heel turn wasn't the only surprise he had in store for the champion, then forced out an evil laugh to end this rather dire little segment.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Bob 'Spark Plugg' Holly
Though Summerslam 95 may never be remembered fondly as an outstanding show, it was at least notable for other reasons.

Not only was this the first Summerslam event to take place on the traditional pay per view day of Sunday, but it also marked the debut PPV match of umpteen-time World Champion and current WWE COO, Triple H.

Sure, the Greenwhich Blueblood -as he was then known- had technically made his WWF PPV debut the previous month, hanging out ringside in the lumberjack main event of In Your House 2, but this was the first time we'd see the future DX leader in action on pay per view.

For his part, Bob Holly continued his run of enjoyable PPV matches by holding his own with Hunter in what was a decent, if not entirely spectacular match.

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Triple H made his WWF PPV debut beating Bob HollyNot too surprisingly, HHH Pedigreed his way to victory following several minutes of fairly entertaining action.
Your Winner: Hunter Hearst Helmsley

In a break from the action, Todd Pettingill brought us highlights from the previous day's tug-of-war match between the World Wrestling Federation Superstars and a group of Pittsburgh firefighters.

In a serious case of damn, we just broke kayfabe, rivals Bam Bam Bigelow and Kama were seen hanging out together with King Mabel and his opponent from the last two PPVs, Savio Vega.

For those who care, the firefighters lost the tug-of-war and were forced to jump into the water. Interesting.

The Blu Twins (Jacob & Eli Blu w/ Uncle Zebekiah) vs. The Smoking Gunns (Bart & Billy Gunn)
Returning to the ringside, Jack Swagger's manager, Uncle Zebekiah led big mountain men The Blu Twins into action against former WWF Tag Team Champions, The Smoking Gunns.

'You'd have to be a computer whiz to keep track of these Blu Twins,' exclaimed Vince as the identical twins but the boots to their opponents.
'Yeah,' said Jerry Lawler. 'I just bought five copies of Windows 95, and I don't even have a computer.'

Quite what the point of this last statement was, we'll perhaps never know, but it was certainly far more interesting than anything that took place in the ring.

Whilst this wasn't necessarily a bad match, only Billy's inevitable hot tag to Bart managed to elicit any kind of response from the crowd. From there, it didn't take long for the good guys to hit the Sidewinder and bring an end to this brief, if somewhat boring, tag match.
Your Winners: The Smoking Gunns
WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Barry Horowitz vs. Body Donna Skip w/ Sunny
Virgil's moment of glory in capturing the Million Dollar Championship from Ted Dibiase four years earlier at Summerslam 1991, to the 123 Kid's upset over Dibiase and Razor Ramon two years later, the feel-good story of the plucky underdog triumphing in the face of adversity had always yielded positive results for the WWF. Now a further two years on, Vince & Co. were at it again, this time with lifetime 'enhancement talent' Barry Horowitz scoring upsets over relatively newcomer Skip and Hakushi.
From

Not happy to let it lie, Skip and his Body Donnas ally Sunny made their way to Summerslam to finally seek revenge. Not that they were likely to get it.

Skip (w/ Sunny) vs. Barry Horowitz
There was a time when the only woman this once horny teenager wanted to see naked was Sunny. Though I believe doing so is now only a Skype chat away looking at her back then in that garish red-and-blue spandex get up, I'm hard pressed to remember why I wanted to.

Still, the now Hall of Famer was at least entertaining as he cheered on her man in what turned out to be a really fun match.

Though it was the familiar story of the babyface underdog going up against the cocky, over-confident heel that was the real star here, that's to take nothing away from the talents of the late Chris Candido nor his veteran opponent.

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Sunny cheers on Skip in his match against Barry Horowitz
Both men played their parts perfectly in what was probably the best match either man ever had inside a WWE ring.

Just when it looked like Skip would finally get a pinfall over his rival, Hakushi returned to the ring, jumped from one side of the ring to the other, and distracted the Body Donna just long enough for Horrowitz to pick up yet another win.
Your Winner: Barry HoHorowitz

Backstage in his classroom, Shane 'Dean' Douglas told us the meaning of the word vivify and applied it to the ending of our previous match. Having graded both Horowitz and the referee, Douglas sent it back to Vince.

Instead, it was Pettengill who picked things up, taking us back to the classic ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania 10. Speaking to Pettengill, reigning champion HBK claimed that being the loser of that legendary match still ate him up inside, and that nothing in the world would stop him from making up for it in tonight's rematch.

Before that though, we had a title match of a very different kind.

World Wrestling Federation Women's Championship
WWF Women's Champion Alundra Blayze vs. Bertha Faye (w/ Harvey Wippleman)
Ignoring the ring announcer's gaffe in refering to Alundra as a 'he,' the on-again-off-again women's champion made her way to the ring for a decent clash against the behemoth, Bertha.

Sure, the gimmick of an oversized trailer park dweller in love with the scrawny Harvey Wippleman may not have been the best choice for the otherwise talented Ronda Singh, it did little to prevent her putting on a good showing against Blayze.

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Jim Ross interviews Harvey Wippleman and new WWF Women's Champion Bertha Faye
In what little time they had together, both champ and challenger put on an entertaining match that would put the efforts of most modern divas to shame.

Far from a classic, this was nonetheless a solid effort from both women, and ended with bib Bertha landing a sitout powerbomb to capture the title.
Your Winner and NEW WWF Women's Champion: 

On their way back to the locker room, Bertha and her beau where interrupted  by Jim Ross, who was eager to get a word from the new champion. After assuring Wippleman that he was a happily married man who had no interest in the new WWF Women's Champion, Ross held the mic whilst Faye gave a pretty bland promo in which she boasted about her win.

Moving swiftly on, Todd Pettengill reminded us about the seemingly never-ending war between Supreme Fighting Machine Kama, and the man from the Dark Side, The Undertaker, following which the latter promised that the former would rest in peace in our upcoming casket match.

Casket match
Kama (w/ Ted Dibiase) vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
Confession time, folks: As universally revered as he may be these days, your reviewer has never been much of an Undertaker fan. OK so it's hard not to respect his longevity as a top player, but having to sit through endless minutes of crap like this as a kid is enough to put anyone off the future Hall of Famer.

Especially when 'crap like this,' is simply a repeat of the exact same thing you saw just last month.

Indeed, the first casket match between these two -tacked on as a Colliseum Home Video Exclusive- at the end of In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks- was such a God Awful bore of unprecedented tedium.

Sadly, their second meeting was only marginally better.

Slow, sluggish, and with very little to excited about beyond Paul Bearer reclaiming the gold chain that used to be his urn, this was perhaps one of the worst things to happen all evening.

Finally, the whole thing ended about ten minutes later than it should have done with a predictable win for The Man from the Dark Side.
Your Winner: The Undertaker 

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Isaac Yankem
Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Jerry Lawler. If you remember rightly, it all began back at the 1993 King of the Ring, and had gone on all the way to King of the Ring 1995, where The Hitman stuffed The King's foot in his own mouth at the culmination of their Kiss My Foot match.
With that thankfully over, Pettengill reminded us about the storied rivalry between

For some reason, eating his own foot meant Lawler had to get dental work done, resulting in the debut of demented dentist, Isaac Yankem.

Preparing to do battle with the dentist, Hart next fumbled his way through a pre-match promo in which he vowed to knock all of Yankem's teeth down his throat.

Bret 'The Hitman' Hart vs. Isaac Yankem D.D.S
Remember earlier when we learned that this was Triple H's debut PPV match, we forgot one other significant debut, that of long-tenured grappler, Kane.

Two-and-a-bit years before he donned the mask and became The Undertaker's brother, Glenn Jacobs made a big impression in a good effort against The Excellence of Execution.

Far from a classic, this was nonetheless an enjoyable outing in which Bret clearly worked his ass off to make Yankem look like a killer.

Yet the future WWF Champion would need more help than that to emerge victorious. Cheering on his man for the best part of a quarter of an hour, Lawler could restrain himself no longer and finally got up to lend Yankem a hand. This ultimately led to The Hitman getting his head caught in the ropes, winning the match via DQ as both Isaac and Jerry continued to beat him up.
Your Winner via Disqualification: Bret Hart


WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Doc Hendrix interviews Razor Ramon before the ladder match
Backstage, Razor Ramon gave his final thoughts on his upcoming battle with Shawn Michaels. Showing shades of the subtle-heel role he'd play throughout their memorable encounter, Ramon was briefly interrupted by The Hitman being assisted to the back by the referees. With Bret gone, The Bad Guy reminded us that it was a New Era here in the World Wrestling Federation, but that the outcome would be the same as it had been the year before, with Razor retrieving the WWF Intercontinental Championship.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon 
It's fair to say that the two ladder matches between Shawn and Razor, the first back at Wrestlemania 10 and the second here tonight, have gone down in history as not only some of the best ladder matches of all time, but as two of the absolute best bouts of the entire 1990s.

For this writer's money, the original Wrestlemania classic will always be the better of the two, though not by much.

With the belt initially being hung too high, causing Shawn Michaels to throw a bit of a tantrum and demand it be fixed, tonight's match got off to a dodgy start, and ended more or less the same way, with an out-of-place ladder leading to a somewhat stalled finale, though everything in between was just about as good as you'd expect it to be.

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels fought Razor Ramon in a ladder match
With Razor playing the role of the aggressor and Michaels bumping as though his life depended on it, the two worked well together to create a dramatic title match that delivered everything it promised and then some.

By now, Doc Hendrix had replaced Lawler on commentary (The King presumably gloating with his buddy, the dentist, backstage), though not that could distract from what was ultimately a very exciting encounter between two future Hall of Famers.

In the end, Michaels overcame a couple of failed attempts to grab the title to finally unhook it, collapse from the ladder, and win the match.
Your Winner and STILL WWF Intercontinental Champion: Shawn Michaels

Teasing a heel turn, Razor returned to the ring and snatched the belt from the hands of an exhausted HBK, only to return it with a handshake and a hug.

Back in the classroom, Dean Douglas tried to tell us why Razor lived up to his name of being bad, only for The Bad Guy himself to walk in and slap the piss out of the former ECW Champion.

Moving swiftly on, King Mabel and his throne were carried to the ring by a group of guys this writer swears were the same ones who carried Macho King Randy Savage for his retirement match with Ultimate Warrior back at Wrestlemania 7. Whilst that was going on, the WWF Champion gave Todd Pettengill a brief interview, in which he promised to put an end to the reign of King Mabel.

That match was next.

World Wrestling Federation Championship 
WWF Champion Diesel vs. King Mabel (w/ Sir Mo)
Before we get down to the action (or lack thereof, as the case may be), there's something that needs pointing out. Earlier on, half way between the Holly/Helmsley match, we were shown footage of the British Bulldog arriving at the scene.

WWF / WWE - SUMMERSLAM 1995 - King Mabel challenged Big Daddy Cool Diesel for the WWF Championship
In a move we'll talk about in much more detail in our next In Your House review, the Bulldog had recently turned heel by attacking Big Daddy Cool, and even though he wasn't scheduled to compete tonight, had arrived at the arena anyway. Surely that could only mean one thing, a Bulldog run-in, right?

And so, with that lingering in the back of everybody's minds, Diesel vs. King Mabel began, and wasted no time in living up to its promise as a sure-fire stinkfest.

Not that Big Daddy Cool didn't do what he could. Hell, the big seven-footer even broke out the same suicide dive that had been the highlight of his Lumberjack outing with Sid the month before, though that wasn't quite enough to save this from the annals of Wrestlecrap.

Towards the end, Davey Boy Smith's erstwhile Allied Powers team mate, Lex Luger showed up to help out the champion, not that Diesel was taking any chances. He quickly drilled Luger and hurled him out of the ring, never to be seen in the World Wrestling Federation again.

One flying clothesline later, and Big Daddy Cool put us all out of our misery.
Your Winner and STILL WWF Champion: Diesel 
All of which begs the question: Did Vince really pay Davey Boy just to film a two second segment where he did nothing more than walk into the arena and snarl a bit? Couldn't the Bulldog just watch the PPV at home like everybody else?

It would be a couple of months yet before we got the pay off to the Bulldog/Diesel rivalry, so until then, we'll just let the big man celebrate his not-so-impressive victory, and thank the Good Lord Above that this one is finally over, though not before we got highlights of the show, soundtracked to the WWF Slamjam song that was first released in 1992.


Though it was saved from being an out-and-out bad show thanks to the ladder match, the opening Hakushi/Kid contest, and even the efforts of Skip and Barry Horowitz, Summerslam 1995 was hardly must-see stuff. Absolutely track down Michaels/Razor II if you can, watch the other two decent matches from this one if you must, but otherwise, this is one WWF PPV you can happily steer clear from.
Still, this did mark the PPV debuts of HHH, Kane and Sunny, so I suppose it does have that going for it.

Next time on Retro Pro Wrestling - In Your House 3: Triple Header.

1 comments:

For some odd reason, Owen Hart and Yokozuna, who were the current WWF Tag-Team Champions at the time, were not on this card, which is just another bizarre Vince McMahon 1995 booking idea, as he left top guys off PPV cards left and right, since Luger and Bulldog don't wrestle here either.

The only thing I can think of is that Vince figured he would rotate guys since he was doing monthly PPVs.

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.