Classic Wrestling Review: SummerSlam ’93

(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)

SummerSlam

August 30, 1993

The Palace of Auburn Hills

Auburn Hills, Michigan

After King of the Ring, Hulk Hogan decided he needed a break from wrestling. He finished the European tour and then went to film Thunder in Paradise. Vince didn’t know if he would come back, so he decided it was time to create a new Hogan. The threat of the steroid trial was looming, so Vince needed someone muscular, but not to a ridiculous degree. He found someone, but the problem is that man was a heel. He had to devise a way of turning him babyface in a short amount of time.

On the 4th of July, the WWF held an event on the U.S.S. Intrepid. The main attraction was a Body Slam Challenge to see who could slam the WWF Champion, Yokozuna. A mixture of wrestlers and sports stars attempted to slam Yoko, but they failed. Even Randy Savage made a failed attempt. It seemed that Yokozuna had prevailed, but then a helicopter arrived on the ship. The fans thought it was Hogan, but the man who emerged was—Lex Luger. Heenan tried to meet him in the aisle, but Luger shoved him aside and entered the ring. Lex then cut a promo where he said there was nothing wrong with America and called Yoko and Fuji leeches. (He also talked about having a rash, for some reason.) Luger showed a new patriotic side to himself and managed to get some fans to chant his name. He then fought with Yokozuna, who tried to charge him in the corner. Lex moved, hit him with a forearm, and then slammed him! Everyone celebrated and Luger would later push for a title match. However, Fuji claimed it was a hip toss, not a slam, and said that Lex would not receive an opportunity.

Luger would set off on a campaign to rally fan support for a WWF Title Match. He toured the country on a bus that was dubbed The Lex Express. He eventually convinced Jack Tunney to give him the match, but Fuji made sure there was a stipulation that it was the only title shot that Luger would receive. Luger legitimately toured on the bus—for a while. He reportedly hated it and would later stay in hotel rooms. His efforts on the road were half-hearted, at best. You could tell that this wasn’t a good fit for him, which may explain how this show ends. It was an abrupt face-turn for Lex and the fans were hesitant to cheer him, but Vince did his best to try and get him over with the crowd.

The show opens with footage of the Lex Express arriving at the arena. “Stars & Stripes Forever” plays, as Luger steps off the bus and greets a small group of fans. Mean Gene narrates the video and says that Luger has met hundreds of thousands of Americans on his trip across the country. Now, his red, white, & blue call to action campaign has finally reached its destination at SummerSlam.

Vince McMahon then welcomes everyone to the show and utters the words, “Lex Express,” at least ten times in rapid succession. Vince then says that three titles are on the line tonight, but Heenan corrects him to say it’s four. Bobby reminds Vince that the King of the Ring title is also up for grabs. Then, Heenan talks about being envious of Jim Cornette because he’s going to make big money as the manager of Yokozuna. This transitions into the first match because Ted DiBiase makes his entrance. (I’m glad to see Heenan, but I’m sad that Jim Ross isn’t on commentary. He’s there, but he has other duties, which I’ll discuss later.)

Razor Ramon vs. Ted DiBiase

Razor Ramon has completed his face-turn. After losing to the 1-2-3 Kid, Razor challenged him to a rematch and put up $15,000. The Kid nearly killed himself during the match and ended up running away with the money. Money Inc. would start mocking Razor for his losses and DiBiase even offered Razor a job cleaning his cars. Razor had enough and told off DiBiase. Then, he humiliated Ted further by causing him to lose a match to the Kid. Ramon developed a respect for the 1-2-3 Kid and they became friends, which cemented Razor’s turn. Now, Razor and the Kid will face Money Inc. in singles matches on this show. However, this will be DiBiase’s final match in the WWF. He briefly leaves the company for a lighter schedule due to issues at home. He would work a little in Japan, but he suffers a career-ending back injury. He will return later as a manager, but this is his last hurrah in the WWF as a wrestler. Before the match starts, DiBiase loosens one of the turnbuckle pads and then he attacks Razor while he’s trying to take off his gold chains.

Ted chops Razor in the corner, but Ramon answers with a back drop and a fallaway slam. DiBiase regroups, so Razor finally removes his entrance gear. Then, Ted returns and fights back, but Razor hits a few clotheslines and sends him back to the floor. He then slingshots DiBiase into the ring, but Ted begs off into a corner. He lures in Razor and pulls him into the turnbuckles before choking him on the ropes. Ted also hits a backbreaker and wears him down with holds. He follows that up with a swinging neckbreaker and a suplex, but Razor blocks a Million Dollar Dream. Both men then go down to a double clothesline, but Ted sends Ramon to the floor and finishes removing the turnbuckle pad. He attempts to ram Razor into it, but Ramon reverses and hits the Razors Edge for the win.

This was a good heated opener. The crowd was into it from start to finish. It wasn’t long, but they set a good pace for the length. They found a way to pack just enough story into a short time to make it interesting. It was exactly what you want from an opening match.

Winner: Razor Ramon (7:32)

Todd Pettengill is with the Steiner Brothers’ mother and sister. He tries flirting with them by claiming he can’t tell which one is the mother and which is the sister. Todd then has the nerve to follow up his flirting by asking about Papa Steiner. Mama Steiner says he’s at home because he isn’t feeling well. Then, Todd asks about the Steiners’ childhood and makes a joke about them breaking furniture with Frankensteiners. Mama Steiner doesn’t know how to respond to such a lame joke, so she says, “Right, whatever you say.” He turns to the sister next and she looks like she bathed in spray tanner. She jokes that any time she brought home a boyfriend, they would see Rob & Scott and leave. (Rob & Scott?? Uh, oh. She used Rick’s real name. Vince probably had her thrown out of the arena for breaking kayfabe.) Todd tries to continue, but Jim Cornette interrupts him.

Tag Team Title Match: The Steiner Brothers (c) vs. The Heavenly Bodies (w/ Jim Cornette)

WCW passed on continuing a relationship with Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling, but the WWF jumped on the opportunity. (I imagine that Vince saw it as one-upping Ted Turner.) He not only brought in SMW talent, but he also made Cornette the American spokesperson for Yokozuna. (Fuji’s promos weren’t great, so this is a good move.) SMW started sharing talent with the WWF, which includes the Heavenly Bodies, but Stan Lane has retired from wrestling. The Gigolo, Jimmy Del Ray, replaced him and the Bodies earned a shot at the Tag Team Titles. They will face the new champs, The Steiner Brothers. They traded title wins with Money Inc. on the house show circuit, which means they’re already two-time champs coming into this show. Before the match starts, Cornette introduces the Bodies by saying they’re better late at night than David Letterman. Tom Prichard then returns the favor by introducing Cornette. (I should point out that Cornette wears a neck brace throughout this show. He’s selling a kayfabe injury he suffered on SMW TV because he’s that dedicated to keeping the storylines going.)

The Bodies jump the Steiners to start and isolate Rick for some double teaming. Scott returns and the Steiners whip the Bodies into each other before Scott starts tossing both men around the ring. The Bodies then regroup before Prichard faces off against Scott. The Steiners hit press slams and Steinerlines, so the Bodies have to regroup again and Cornette talks strategy. (He also spots the cameraman and yells at him for almost giving him an aneurysm, which Vince apparently thinks is a good idea.) Scott gets the advantage again, but he falls victim to double teaming. They send Scott to the floor and Del Ray hits a somersault senton off the apron. He also hits a float-over DDT before the Bodies use a ref distraction so Cornette can hit Scott with his racket. However, Scott answers with a suplex and a Tiger Bomb before finally tagging Rick. He hits more Steinerlines and a flying bulldog, but Prichard breaks up the pin. The match becomes a brawl and the ref is distracted, so the Bodies back drop Scott to the floor. Then, they hit Rick with the tennis racket, but they only get a two-count. Del Ray then attempts a moonsault, but he hits Prichard by mistake. This opens the door for Scott to hit a Frankensteiner for the win.

This was a really fun match. It was a lot faster paced than the usual WWF tag matches. The camera crew was barely able to keep up with the action. The crowd loved it and the Bodies got good heat, despite being a new tag team in the company. Plus, Cornette was his usual entertaining self. Both teams looked strong. This was a good way to make the Bodies look like a serious team, even in defeat.

Winners: The Steiner Brothers (9:28)

Vince then introduces a new member of the broadcast team, Joe Fowler. (If you don’t remember him, don’t feel bad. He doesn’t last long.) He’s with Intercontinental Champion, Shawn Michaels, and Diesel. He brings up the fact that Shawn has won and lost the title a couple of times, so he asks if he can retain tonight. Shawn says all the questions about who is the greatest Intercontinental Champion will be answered. He says he’s going to prove he’s the greatest champion. Fowler says that Perfect caused him to the lose the title, but Diesel won it back for him. Shawn counters that he’s the one wearing the title, so he must have won it. Then, Shawn asks Diesel for his thoughts. Diesel says the chicks all want Shawn and he’s just there to keep them off of him. (Why would Shawn want him to keep the women away? Doesn’t he want that?) Diesel and Shawn leave, so Joe sends it back to the action. (If you’re wondering where Mean Gene is at, he’s sadly on his way out of the company. The WWF didn’t renew his contract, so he is heading to WCW. I’m sad to see him leave.)

Intercontinental Title Match: Shawn Michaels (c) (w/ Diesel) vs. Mr. Perfect

Mr. Perfect has been a thorn in Shawn Michaels’ side ever since Shawn jumped him at Mania. He cost Shawn the Intercontinental Title against Marty Jannetty, but Shawn won it back with Diesel’s help. Now, Perfect will get a shot at the belt. During the entrances, they show Jim Ross and Gorilla Monsoon in the press box. They’re broadcasting on Radio WWF, which was an attempt to air radio commentary for those who couldn’t afford the PPV. (It would last a short time before Vince drops it. Sadly, it will be a while until Ross regularly calls PPVs again.) Then, Mr. Perfect makes his entrance and poses on the turnbuckles. He throws his towel at Bobby Heenan, who claims he got something in his eye. Also, Vince does his best to jinx this match by calling it one of the greatest Intercontinental Title Matches before it starts.

They trade holds, takeovers, and even hair-pulling to start the match. Perfect keeps answering all of Shawn’s reversals and turns him inside out with a clothesline. He also catches Shawn in an arm drag on a dive and starts working Michaels’ arm. Shawn tries to answer with a dropkick, but he misses and Perfect catapults him over the ropes. Perfect attempts to follow, but Diesel distracts him and Shawn hits a superkick. He follows that with an axehandle to the back and focuses his attack on it. He hits Perfect with a couple of stiff shots, so Perfect yells, “God dammit!” However, Perfect answers with a dropkick, back drop, knee-lift, and an atomic drop. He also manages to hit a Perfect Plex, but Diesel pulls him out of the ring. Perfect and Diesel brawl on the floor, so Shawn joins them. They fight and Perfect rolls Shawn into the ring, but Shawn hits Earl Hebner. Diesel uses the distraction to ram Perfect into the steps, so Perfect is unable to return to the ring before the ten-count.

That was a disappointing end to an otherwise good match. I thought they were building a pretty decent bout. I know some people call the entire match lackluster, but I thought everything up to the count out finish was great. They had some good spots and were telling a good story. I didn’t mind the pace. I only disliked the ending.

Winner: Shawn Michaels (by Count Out) (11:20)

After the match, Perfect attacks Diesel and Shawn, but they get the better of him. Shawn holds Perfect, so Diesel knocks him out with a few punches and Shawn leaves the ring. Todd Pettengill meets Shawn in the aisle and questions how he can be happy with the way he won. Shawn says all the questions have been answered. He says he’s the one holding the belt, so he shoves Todd and leaves. Perfect recovers and runs toward the back.

Meanwhile, Joe Fowler is with the 1-2-3 Kid. He says they better lock the doors because Perfect is on his way. Then, Joe says it’s the first PPV for both himself and the Kid. The Kid replies that he’s nervous and has butterflies in his stomach because he’s going up against IRS. Joe then points out that IRS is bigger and stronger than the Kid, just like all his opponents. The Kid replies with a bunch of cliches about giving it 110% and throwing caution to the wind. Joe then gets word that IRS is in the ring, so the Kid leaves. Joe calls him quiet and shy, but he says he’s a hero. (I get they’re trying to paint the Kid as an underdog, but this was not a good promo. He gets better over time, but that takes a while.)

Irwin R. Schyster vs. The 1-2-3 Kid

IRS is already in the ring and he has a mic. He says that Detroit used to be known as the Motor City, but now it’s the Tax Cheat City. Then, the Kid enters the arena and Heenan jokes that this is the first time he’s been allowed to stay up past eight o’clock. Vince brings up the fact that the Kid beat DiBiase, but Heenan says that’s wrong. He says Razor was the one who defeated him.

IRS starts off with a shoulder block, but the Kid answers with a spinning wheel kick. IRS then responds by pressing the Kid into the air and letting him fall. He tries to do it again, but the Kid dropkicks him in mid-air. IRS responds to that by throwing the Kid over the ropes and attacking him at the apron. Then, he attempts to slingshot the Kid into the ring, but he lands on his feet and rolls up IRS for two. However, IRS locks him in an abdominal stretch and uses the ropes for leverage. He eventually gets caught, but he continues wearing down the Kid with holds. The Kid eventually fights back and hits some kicks in the corner before doing a moonsault for another two-count. He also hits a cradle and an enziguri for more near-falls. Unfortunately, IRS surprises him with a lariat for the win.

The Kid can’t win all his matches if they want him to be an underdog, so the loss made sense. They did enough to make him look good in this match. It was easily IRS’s best match I’ve covered. The Kid hit enough exciting spots to pop the crowd and he looked like he could have gotten a win a couple of times. This match served its purpose well. The crowd was a little deflated by the loss, but they reacted well to the rest of the match.

Winner: IRS (5:44)

Afterward, Heenan uses the Brain Scan to narrate the finishing sequence. His drawing is at its worst, so he turns it into the number 1040 and jokes that IRS’s lariat was a 1040 form. He laughs at his own joke, but Vince ignores him.

Then, Todd is with Bret Hart’s brothers, Owen and Bruce. He says Stu and Helen were supposed to be in attendance, but Bruce said that Stu is in the hospital. He claims there was an accident because of Jerry Lawler. (That’s a good way to turn a real-life surgery into more heat on Lawler.) Owen says they’re sick of Lawler’s antics and they’re there to support Bret. He says they’re going to make sure that Bret is number one.

Bret’s music starts playing, but he takes a while to enter, so Heenan calls him chicken. They show a sign in the crowd that says, “Bret, we want you as champ.” (I wonder how Vince feels about that.) Then, Lawler enters the arena, but he’s on crutches. There’s an ice-pack on his knee. Todd joins him and asks what’s going on with his leg. Lawler says he hates Bret Hart and his whole family and he wants to snap his neck. He also tells the fans he hates them, so Todd gets impatient. Lawler says he rented a limo that didn’t work and some old lady caused a ten-car pileup. He claims he pulled himself out of the fiery wreckage and refused to go to the hospital because he had to face Bret. However, he says the doctors in the back won’t let him compete. Lawler says Bret is a hated man in the WWF and everyone in the back wanted to beat him, so Bret will face Lawler’s self-appointed court jester—Doink the Clown!

Bret Hart vs. Doink the Clown (w/ Jerry Lawler)

Doink enters the arena with two buckets in hand and feigns concern for Lawler. He tosses some confetti on the fans from the first bucket. Then, he grabs the second bucket and dumps water on Bruce Hart. (Bruce is legitimately pissed because he wasn’t warned about the spot ahead of time. I love it because Bruce is a notorious jackass.) Bruce and Owen jump the rail and try to attack, but the officials stop them.

Bret immediately attacks Doink before he can remove his jacket and clotheslines him out of the ring. They brawl in and outside again and Bret rams him into the post, but Doink tries to catch him at the ropes. Doink goes to the top rope, but Bret catches him and drops him face-first to the mat. However, Lawler distracts Bret and Bret ends up going after him. Doink uses the opening to jump Bret and ram him into the steps. Then, he sends Bret back inside and hits a flying axehandle. He follows that up by attacking Bret’s leg and ramming it into the post before locking Bret in an STF. Bret breaks free, but Doink continues the attack and locks Bret in a Stump Puller. He uses the ropes for leverage, but the ref catches him and breaks the hold. Then, Doink slams Bret and goes for the Whoopie Cushion, but Bret raises his knees into Doink’s crotch. He follows up with the Russian leg sweep and diving elbow before locking Doink in a Sharpshooter. He looks to have the match won, but Lawler crawls into the ring and whacks Bret with his crutch. (Heenan claims it’s a miracle that Lawler can walk.)

This was a solid enough match, but it was more about the storyline than anything. Bret did a lot to make Doink look like a threat and let him get in some good offense. Doink managed to either hit or attempt all his signature moves, so I’ll give Bret credit for giving him the shine even in a short storyline match.

Winner: Bret Hart (by DQ) (9:05)

Lawler continues the beating, while Owen and Bruce complain. He then starts helping Doink to the back, but Jack Tunney arrives. He confronts Lawler in the aisle and orders him to get into the ring. The officials have to prevent Bret from attacking him, while Tunney confers with the Fink. He announces that Lawler will be banned from the WWF if he doesn’t get into the ring with Bret.

Jerry the King Lawler vs. Bret Hart

Bret meets Lawler in the aisle and hits him with Doink’s bucket. They enter the ring and the bell rings while Bret bites and punches Lawler. He then hits Jerry with a back drop and a leg drop before dropping a headbutt into Lawler’s gut. Jerry rolls outside, so Bret follows and hits him with the crutch. They fight in and out of the ring again, but Lawler gets the remnants of the crutch and attacks Bret. He chokes him while the ref is distracted by Owen and Bruce and then he crotches Bret on the post. Lawler continues his attack, but Bret mule-kicks him in the groin and lowers the straps of his singlet. (That’s a nice touch because that’s usually Lawler’s thing.) He then back drops Jerry and hits a backbreaker before also hitting a piledriver. (That’s also one of Lawler’s signatures, so this is great storytelling.) Then, Bret polls the crowd with a thumbs up and a thumbs down before locking Lawler in the Sharpshooter for the win.

BUT, WAIT!! Bret refuses to release the hold. The refs attempt to pull him away, but Bret won’t budge. More officials arrive, but they can’t convince Bret to stop. The fans and his brothers all cheer while Heenan yells for someone to physically pull Bret off of him. Owen and Bruce are the ones who finally convince Bret to stop. However, the Fink announces that the ref has reversed the decision and awarded the match to Lawler by DQ.

This was more storyline than match, but it was great. They told an amazing story and Lawler’s heel work was top-notch. He’s good at getting a reaction out of something simple. (On a side note, Bret reportedly cinched the Sharpshooter in as tightly as he could as payback for Lawler hurting him at King of the Ring. Jerry apparently could barely walk backstage.)

Winner: Jerry Lawler (by DQ) (6:32)

Fink announces the decision and says that Lawler is now the undisputed King of the Ring, so Bret complains before attacking Lawler again. Heenan says this won’t end until one of them is out of the WWF for good. They load Lawler onto a gurney, so Bruce Hart jumps on him, but the officials stop him. (There goes Bruce trying to get some spotlight. He’s notorious for that.) They wheel Lawler to the back and he raises his arm in victory, while the Hart brothers celebrate in the ring.

Next, a newcomer to the WWF, Ludvig Borga, has some comments. He’s in an abandoned building and says he’s in the middle of the American dream. He talks about Lex Luger and asks if he stands up for this filth and pollution. He accuses Lex of never stopping there on his Lex Express and says the building is crumbling just like America. He says that a bunch of high school dropouts are signing the country away welfare check by welfare check. Then, he says this is the land of opportunity, so he’s going to take the opportunity to show everyone, and Marty Jannetty, what Borga is all about. (That’s nice of him to remember to mention his opponent for tonight. I thought he was going to focus only on Luger.)

Ludvig Borga vs. Marty Jannetty

Borga is a Finnish power-lifter and boxer-turned-wrestler that Vince hired to be yet another foreign heel. (I’m not sure why Vince thought Finland would be a good location for an evil foreigner.) His gimmick is that he mocks America for their crime, pollution, and education system. They were building him for a feud with Lex Luger, as you can see from the previous segment. They even gave Borga the Torture Rack as his finisher to taunt Lex. However, he needed something to hold him over while Luger is busy with Yoko. Borga enters to the Finnish national anthem and Vince says that Borga should leave if he hates America so much.

Jannetty makes the mistake of turning his back, so Borga punches him into a corner. He then whips Marty around and hits him with clotheslines, headbutts, and knees. He also presses Marty into the air and punches him as he falls. Borga then follows that with a choke-lift and more punches, but he misses a corner charge. Marty keeps trying to fight back and attempts a sunset flip, but Ludvig punches him and locks him in a bear hug. Marty fights out of the hold and tries a slam, but his back fails him and Borga turns him inside out with a clothesline. Then, Marty outwits Borga on a sunset flip reversal and hits a couple of superkicks. However, Borga catches him on a cross body and slams him. He then puts Jannetty in the Torture Rack for the win.

This was an uninteresting semi-squash. Borga is kind of boring in the ring. His offense is mostly punching. Marty did his best to make Borga look strong, but the match wasn’t good. I kind of feel bad for Marty. He was Intercontinental Champion not long before this, but now he’s fallen. (I’m guessing this is because of his tendency to be unreliable.)

Winner: Ludvig Borga (5:15)

Next, they show a commercial for Survivor Series. Gene narrates footage of various wrestlers. He talks about stuffing and squash while showing a clip of Yokozuna hitting the Banzai Drop. Vince says that they’re returning to tag team elimination matches this year. He also says not to be confused by anything resembling Survivor Series, which is a reference to WCW’s upcoming Battlebowl PPV in November.

Rest in Peace Match: The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez (w/ Harvey Wippleman)

This feud is sadly still going. Paul Bearer was off TV to sell the beating from Mr. Hughes, so Taker challenged Gonzalez to one final match. They announced it as a Rest in Peace Match, but apparently, only Taker knew what that meant. Before the match, the Fink announces that the stipulation means there are no count-outs or disqualifications. (That’s disappointing. It’s basically a No DQ Match.) Harvey Wippleman still has the urn and Vince says he stole it, but Heenan claims he—earned it. (He’s used that joke already.) The Undertaker enters alone and they turn down the lights. He brings them back on by raising his arms when he reaches the ring. (Is this the first time they used this entrance? I haven’t seen it on PPV before now. It will become a staple of his entrance for a while.)

Taker immediately attacks with throat chops and chokes, but he has to climb the turnbuckles to do it. Wippleman distracts him, so Gonzalez attacks Taker with boots, headbutts, and forearms that all look weak. Taker tries to fight back, but Gonzalez sends him to the floor and they brawl. He then rams Taker into the apron and grabs a chair, but Gonzalez hits him with the wrong side. (I’m sure Taker gave him an earful for that!) Then, Gonzalez whips Taker knee-first into the steps. (Taker and Mick Foley always took it that way. It has to be hell on your knees.) He then sends Taker back inside the ring and Taker crawls for the urn. Gonzalez continues attacking him with weak forearms, but then the gong sounds and Paul Bearer returns with a black wreath. Wippleman threatens Paul, but he clotheslines Harvey and retrieves the urn. Meanwhile, Gonzalez slams Taker, but he spots Bearer and is distracted. Bearer raises the urn, so Taker sits up and takes Gonzalez down to a knee with clotheslines. He then goes to the top and hits a flying clothesline for the win. Bearer places the black wreath over Gonzalez after the bell rings.

This was awful and silly, but it was slightly better than their Mania match. (That’s not saying much.) I will give Taker credit for doing everything he could to make Gonzalez look good, but Gonzalez’s offense is too weak. Thankfully, this is the end of this feud. (I’m sure Taker is pleased, but there is even more silliness coming for him.)

Winner: The Undertaker (8:04)

After the match, Gonzalez finally has enough of Wippleman’s crap. He stalks him around the ring while Harvey tries to explain. Gonzalez shoves over the wreath and hits Wippleman with one of the worst chokeslams ever. (Harvey barely left the mat.) He then lays the wreath on Harvey and leaves the ring.

Next, Joe Fowler is with WWF Champion, Yokozuna, Mr. Fuji, and Jim Cornette. He tells Cornette that he’s already in the hole because the Heavenly Bodies lost. Cornette calls him hatchet-head and tells him to take a Valium. Jim then claims the hometown official was biased in favor of the Steiners and says he will complain to Tunney. He then guarantees the same won’t happen to Yokozuna. Fowler talks about the surprises so far tonight, but Cornette says Fowler’s employment is the only surprise. They zoom in on Yoko’s face while Jim talks about his lack of pity, fear, and compassion. He says Yoko will rip Luger limb from limb. He tells Luger to draw strength from all the fans, but it won’t be enough. (Is Luger going to attempt a Spirit Bomb in the match??) Then, Cornette says the last thing Luger will hear is this, and Yoko yells, “Banzai!” (This was a great Cornette promo, but Fowler tries to ruin the moment by making a joke.)

The Smoking Gunns & Tatanka vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & The Headshrinkers (w/ Luna Vachon & Afa)

This was originally supposed to be a Mixed Tag Team Match pitting Tatanka & Sherri vs. Bam Bam & Luna, but Luna got injured and Sherri was fired for drug problems. They decided to mix in the Gunns and Headshrinkers to fill the holes, but there’s not a lot of build for this match outside the Bam Bam/Tatanka feud. However, this match gives Heenan the opportunity to joke about Cowboys and Indians teaming together. (On a side note, Heenan announces during the entrances that Shawn Michaels has left the building. This is something they used to do for Elvis and they added it to Shawn’s gimmick. It’s amusing.)

The face team tries to get an early jump, but they fail and the match starts with Bam Bam and Tatanka. He surprises Bam Bam with a shoulder tackle, dropkick, and a back drop, but both men go down to a double cross body. Fatu and Billy Gunn then face-off and trade punches, but Fatu hits a superkick. Billy answers by reversing a suplex into a DDT and hitting a flying clothesline, but Fatu hits a shoulder block. The Headshrinkers then double team Billy and let Afa attack him. However, Samu mistakenly sends Billy into his corner for a tag to Bart. He hits Samu with a cross body and an arm drag, but Samu answers with an elbow and a facebuster. Then, the heels double and triple team Bart in their corner. He tries to fight back with a facebuster, but it’s ineffective on a Samoan. The triple teaming continues and everyone hits Bart with a headbutt, but Bam Bam misses a corner charge. Tatanka makes the tag and hits chops, a DDT, and a flying cross body, but he only gets a two. He complains about the count, so Bam Bam attacks him and cuts off a comeback. The match eventually becomes a brawl and Bam Bam clotheslines Billy out of the ring where he lands on his head. They triple team Tatanka and everyone goes for simultaneous flying headbutts, but they miss. Then, the Gunns take out Bam Bam and Fatu while Tatanka rolls up Samu for the win.

The finishing sequence was nice, but a lot of this match dragged. It was decent, but not great. I think it went on longer than it should have. They should have kept this shorter and more active.

Winners: Tatanka & The Smoking Gunns (11:15)

Next, Joe Fowler interviews the bus driver of the Lex Express, Hank Carter. The poor guy is stuck watching the show on a tiny monitor in the bus. He says he’s having a great time. Joe asks him about his time with Luger. Hank says Luger is one of the fantastic wrestlers of all-time. He calls him genuine and compassionate, especially with the children. Joe then asks if any of the cities touched Hank. He says that Philadelphia did. (Poor Hank. No one wants to be touched by Philadelphia.) Hank also talks about Luger meeting sick children. Then, Fowler says he’s allowed one stupid question. (Too late!) He asks who Hank likes in the title match. (That was probably the least stupid thing he asked!) Hank predictably says he picks Luger.

Then, Todd is in the crowd with a fan in what looks like a homemade red, white, & blue toga. (Mania was months ago. Why is this guy wearing a toga?) Pettengill says patriotism isn’t dead and asks the guy for his name. He introduces himself as Bruce and says his mom made the outfit out of bed sheets. (It shows.) Todd then leads the crowd in a USA chant, while Vince says you can feel the patriotism for Luger. Meanwhile, Heenan thinks the Lex Express bus driver was Jimmy Carter.

Fink then introduces Kiotika Suzuki to sing the Japanese national anthem, while the crowd boos. He’s flanked by the former Sato of the Orient Express, who holds the Japanese flag. The crowd attempt to drown him out with boos, which is probably for the best. (His singing is terrible. Did they pick the worst guy they could find on purpose?) Then, Fink introduces the emcee for the main event, Randy Savage. He leads singer, Aaron Neville, to the ring to sing the American national anthem. Savage is dressed in a red, white, & blue outfit. (It’s way better than that fan’s toga.) Aaron does a much better job of singing, but the crowd is still a bit noisy.

WWF Title Match: Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna (c) (w/ Jim Cornette & Mr. Fuji)

The Fink then introduces Yokozuna. (I thought Savage was supposed to be the emcee.) Heenan calls Fink’s introduction a disgrace because he got Yoko’s weight wrong. Bobby says Yoko is nearly 600 lbs. Then, they show a sign that says, “Yoko Tuna,” which catches Vince off guard. Luger then makes his entrance to “Stars & Stripes Forever.” Savage does his introduction, so I guess that’s the extent of his duties. (I can’t help but notice that Luger has had a haircut. It doesn’t look good. He should have kept the long hair.) He’s also wearing a pad over his loaded forearm, but it’s designed to look like an American flag. The bell then rings and they stare at each other for a moment. Fuji stalks in the background, but Luger spots him.

Yoko tries to jump Lex, but Luger hits him with forearms. He then tries an O’Connor Roll, which is foolish, but Yoko blocks it. Yoko attempts a leg drop, but he misses. Luger answers with kicks to Yoko’s leg and Yoko tries to exit the ring, but Luger knocks him down and hits an elbow. Yoko surprises Luger with a slam, but he misses an elbow drop and Luger hits a corner clothesline. Lex then goes for ten-punches in the corner, but Yoko hits a throat chop and chokes him. Then, Yoko distracts the ref and Fuji tries to use salt, but Lex blocks it. He then tries to slam Yoko and fails, so Zuna hits a superkick. Cornette stalks Luger and Yoko throws him outside where Yoko chokes him with some cable. Yoko also grabs a chair, but he misses and hits the post. They finally head back inside. (How was that not a count-out? They were out there forever.) Luger hits some flying axehandles and a flying forearm before clotheslining Yoko from behind, but both men go down to a double clothesline. Then, Cornette distracts the ref and Yoko hits Lex with the salt bucket, but he’s too tired to cover. He eventually hits a belly-to-belly and a side suplex before going to the nerve hold. Luger fights back and tries another slam, but Yoko falls on him for two. Yoko then hits a leg drop, but he still only gets two. He then drags Luger to the corner for the Banzai Drop, but he misses! The two of them trade chops and punches until Luger finally slams Yoko, but Heenan calls it a hiplock. Luger then has to take out Fuji before he lowers his pad and hits Yoko with the loaded forearm. However, Yoko falls out of the ring. Cornette then distracts Lex from following him, but that, unfortunately, means the ref reaches the ten-count.

That was a disappointing finish. The match already wasn’t great. It started hot, but it began to drag. These are two guys that are notorious for bad conditioning, so I’m not sure why they had it go as long as they did. Both guys were sucking wind. Also, I’m unsure why they didn’t give Luger the title after all that build. I’m guessing that Vince soured on Lex because of his half-hearted dedication to the Lex Express gimmick.

Winner: Lex Luger (by Count Out) (17:58)

After the match, wrestlers join Lex in the ring to celebrate. Savage waves a flag and everyone lifts Luger onto their shoulders. Luger takes the flag and waves it, but both Heenan and Vince point out that he didn’t win the title. They even drop balloons. (This is ridiculous. They’re celebrating like he won the title. It makes Luger look like a fool. Even the crowd realizes this because their reaction is pretty tame.) Vince claims that Luger will get a rematch, despite the stipulation. Then, the show ends with a music video about Lex Luger. It’s footage of Luger traveling on the bus cut with patriotic imagery. It’s set to a gloriously cheesy 90s ballad.

The Good:

– The opener was good.

– The Tag Title Match was fun.

– The Bret/Lawler stuff had great storytelling.

The Bad:

– Undertaker/Gonzalez.

– The main event was disappointing and made Luger look foolish.

– Joe Fowler.

Performer of the Night:

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m giving it to Jerry Lawler. His heel work was great and the storytelling was good.

Final Thoughts:

This show was a mixed bag. The first half was good, but the second half was disappointing. The main event fell flat and the celebration afterward was ridiculous. You can tell this company is in transition and they haven’t figured out what they want to do yet. They will find direction again in a year, but they’ll lose it shortly thereafter. The next couple of years are very up and down for the WWF.

Thank you for reading. You can follow the Facebook page for this blog by clicking here and the Twitter page by clicking here. You can also buy Classic Wrestling Review t-shirts by clicking here.

My next review will be WCW’s Fall Brawl ‘93, which means we get the PPV debut of THE SHOCKMASTER!!! Look for my review next Saturday.

 

Written by Paul Matthews

I am chronologically reviewing all the pre-network era WWF/WCW/ECW PPVs from Starrcade '83 to WrestleMania 30. Join me on this journey every Saturday!
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