A Blast from the Past

A Blast from the Past: Summerslam 1992, 1996 and 2002

Like bad BBQs, syringe and beer can covered beaches, fat ladies in bikinis, another crappy Hollywood blockbuster starring Tom Cruise (you know, those things that used to make a boatload of money before everyone finally realised Cruise was out of his damn mind*) and rain drenched caravan holidays in Scarborough, Summerslam is a Summer tradition dating back to 1988. Memorable moments and memorable matches. This ‘Blast from the Past’ will cover three of the matches from Summerslam history…

Like bad BBQs, syringe and beer can covered beaches, fat ladies in bikinis, another crappy Hollywood blockbuster starring Tom Cruise (you know, those things that used to make a boatload of money before everyone finally realised Cruise was out of his damn mind*) and rain drenched caravan holidays in Scarborough, Summerslam is a Summer tradition dating back to 1988.

We’ve seen Zeus in a main event, we’ve seen Bret win the IC Title from arguably the greatest IC Champion in history, we’ve seen Bret lose the IC Title to a Brit in Wembley, brother vs. brother in a cage, Undertaker vs. Undertaker in a stinker, we’ve seen tables, ladies and chairs (oh my), a Highway to Hell, Lesnar winning the belt 5 months after his debut and some unworthy sap win the World Title from Chris Benoit.

Memorable moments and memorable matches. This ‘Blast from the Past’ will cover three of the matches from Summerslam history.

– Summerslam 1992

Rick ‘The Model’ Martel vs. Shawn Michaels w/ Sensational Sherri.

Surprising choice to start but then I’m wild and crazy and out of control like that, I like to surprise people, see…BOO! The story behind the match is actually quite fun as Sherri allows her wandering eye to wander from her man, Shawn Michaels to Rick Martel and back again. Sherri digs both men’s chiselled features so has it written into the match contract that neither man was allowed to touch the other in their pretty little face.

Of course Shawn Michaels wouldn’t work in a match like this these days, it’d be more ‘no punching the colostomy bag’ or ‘don’t touch the liver spot’. Martel at one time was one of the top wrestlers around, wrestling fellow respected Champions like Ric Flair and Jumbo Tsuruta. By 1992 he was ‘The Model’, but such was cartoon land. 1992 was the beginning of the Shawn Michaels singles push and with each passing year he irritated me more and more. Fourteen years later and the guy is still bouncing around doing his same old tired act annoying me more than an STD (note, I have never had an STD, not that I’m aware of anyway. Always wear protection kids. Also say no to drugs, strangers and strangers with drugs). Both men are heels by the way which was extremely rare in the WWF.

Mean ‘By God’ Gene is backstage with Sherri and he recaps the build up to the match, including Martel giving a great over the top, pantomime, vaudeville style wink (that’s ‘wink’, get your minds out of the gutter you scallywags) and it seems no lady can resist the power of the wink as Sherri is immediately enamoured by him. Seriously test it in a club or even in the middle of the street, do a Martel like wink to some lady you like and I guarantee it gets you laid right there on the spot, crowd of people or not. Sherri tells Mean ‘By God’ Gene that she’ll stand right by her man. Martel meanwhile is sporting some rather fetching tennis attire which goes well with his manly pink kneepads and boots.

Michaels has the great Sherri version of ‘Sexy Boy’ while Heenan whistles along on commentary. Aesthetically Wembley was a fantastic venue for a PPV (it remains the one and only venue outside America or Canada to host a major WWF/E PPV), outdoor arenas in general are always great as you get the rather nifty visual of day turning to night as the show progresses. Sherri takes off Michaels’ ring attire and it is on.

Martel sticks it to Michaels with a Greco Roman cartwheel and some jumping jacks to start. They trade hair pulls before teasing some punches and Michaels takes his usual crazy bump to the outside, landing back first. It should be noted that it was a full moon in London that night as far as Sherri’s ring attire goes. Martel turns on the charms with the lady and then kicks her man’s ass (Mark Henry 101 right there), pinfall reversals as both men try to outcheat each other. Martel runs into a boot as Michaels cheats, Martel cheats, both trade insults and then some slaps. They’re about to exchange in some good old fashioned fisticuffs when Sherri is all ‘Hey motherfunkers, no punching in the motherfunkin’ face biatches’, she ‘faints’ and bumps from the apron to the floor. The two continue fighting over Sherri and fight up the aisle to a double countout. Sherri was of course faking, the big Phoney McFaker. Michaels is back down, carried Sherri back up the aisle but Martel is having none of it, knocks them both down and lifts Sherri. Sherri has taken more bumps at this point than Kevin Nash has in his entire career. Just kidding Big Sexy, I love you really. Michaels gets her back, Martel goes backstage, comes back with a bucket of what I assume is water. Can we get a confirmation on that? Yes definitely water and dumps it over Sherri, reviving her and ruining a perfectly good half an outfit.

This match is basically WWF in the early 90s in a nutshell. Some pantomime overacting and a cartoon angle post match. Nowadays of course Martel and Michaels would probably have beaten up Sherri for not putting it out more. Match was very short, a longer match between the two at this time would have been fun, but this was still fairly decent given the time allocated and the non finish.

*Disclaimer: The views expressed questioning Tom Cruise’s sanity are those of the author and not of Talk Wrestling Online, Wrestling101 or any of its affiliates. Thank you for your time. Try the veal.

– Summerslam 1996

WWF Title. Vader w/Jim Cornette vs. Shawn Michaels (c)

Two Shawn Michaels matches? I must be going senile in my old age. Summerslam 1996 was right around the time of the height of my dislike for Shawn Michaels (well apart from the last four years) as he at that point had been the WWF Champion since Wrestlemania. Summerslam 1996 was supposedly to mark the end of this title reign but this period also marked Shawn in all his diva glory and he threw a ‘Shawny’ to get the finish changed. He would hold the belt until Survivor Series where he was booed out of the Garden and murdered by SID in a truly satisfying match, before regaining the belt at the Royal Rumble in his home town. Michaels would go on to drop the belt at Wrestlemania, repaying the job Bret had done for him the year before…yeah right, this is Shawn Michaels we’re talking about. He lost his smile somewhere (most probably up Vince McMahon’s rectal passage) and forfeited the title. But back to Summerslam, I can vividly remember praying Vader beat the crap out of Michaels for the belt, so seeing Michaels win ruined my whole summer. So, you’re to blame for my crappy summer of 96 Shawn. Stupid Michaels.

Vader is managed by James E. Cornette. Michaels is looking even more homoerotic than usual here and he gets accosted by some butt ugly chick in the aisle. Stupid females, fancy a real man, Arn Anderson for instance. He was ruggedly handsome, a real man and one hell of a studmuffin. Michaels’ fans appear to be made up entirely of teenage girls and lonely housewives. If you were male and liked Shawn Michaels in 1996, what the hell were you thinking? I’m guessing you also liked Liza Minnelli or Madonna and your favourite film was ‘Beaches’.

Vader’s knees look shot here and he wasn’t quite as good as his 1992-1994 peak, when he was just phenomenal, but it is still Vader and he beats the piss out of Michaels to start. Michaels fights back with some stiff kicks to The Man They Call Vader (who exactly were ‘They’ anyway?) and he takes control outside and in and counters a Powerbomb with a Frankensteiner. Michaels knocks Vader outside with a Head Scissors and skins the cat but Vader is all ‘It’s time, it’s time, it’s Powerbomb on the floor time’.

Fans of Shawn Michaels were referred to as his ‘Clique’ at this time in a bit of a wink, wink, nudge, nudge touch. Vader is all ‘it’s time, it’s time, it’s stiff punches time biatch’ and he continues to work over Michaels.

The difference in quality of Jim Ross at this time and the Jim Ross of today is just huge and he puts over Vader big time throughout this match.

Vader continues to kick his ass and in a great spot, nonchalantly drops Michaels on his face after Michaels tries to Head Scissor him to the outside again. Michaels tries a Clothesline but Vader shakes his head and calls him a ‘pansy ass’ or at least that’s what I heard. Michaels up top for an Elbow Drop…and you know the rest or at least you should by now.

He throws a hissy fit like a child in a supermarket because Vader is out of position and has words with Vader. ‘I’m telling Vince, you big meany’ would be my guess. Oh how I wish Michaels wasn’t so protected at this time, Vader breaking his puny ass in half and posting his remains back to his mommy in an envelope would have made my life. Vader wins the match by countout…or does he? Well no. No he doesn’t. Cornette doesn’t want to win that way because Vader wouldn’t win the belt so the match is restarted. Cornette wails him with the racket just because and Vader kicks the crap out of him. Powerbomb attempt but Michaels fights out of it, hits the Flying Forearm and you can guess the rest. 10 years later and he’s still doing it. Cornette however stops the Sweet Chin Music attempt but Michaels kicks his ass and gets DQed for using the racket on Vader, but this one isn’t over, Vader can’t win the belt blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. Match restarted, Michaels hits the Elbow Drop and a Sweet Chin Music for…2. Fans buy it as the finish but that crap doesn’t work on Vader. Ref knocked to the outside just as Vader is all ‘it’s time, it’s time, it’s Powerbomb time. Take that motherfunker’. Ref No. 2 runs in but Vader only gets a 2 count. Vader misses a Moonsault and Michaels wins with a Moonsault Press. Stupid Michaels.

Yeah good match even with all the overbooked shenanigans. Michaels was always at his best when he was taking an ass kicking from some big son of a bitch. He did get too much offence in here though for my liking. Watching Shawn Michaels from this period nowadays is always strange for some reason. I guess because we know just what Michaels was like at this time and for some reasons it changes your viewing of the match. This one in particular, knowing about the hissy fit mid match and whining to get the finish changed, leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. Stupid Michaels.

– Summerslam 2002

WWE Title. Brock Lesnar w/Paul E. Dangerously Heyman vs. The Rock (c)

18th March 2002, Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman as his manager makes an impressive debut in the WWE doing a run in during a Hardcore match and murderising Maven, Al Snow and in particular Spike Dudley. From day one he was earmarked as the ‘Next Big Thing’ and would be rising to the top of the company within months whether people liked it or not. In the months following his debut he would squash The Hardy Boys, beat Flair, Rob Van Dam, Booker T (whoever the hell that is), kill Hulk Hogan (not literally) and win the King of the Ring earning a title shot at Summerslam against The Rock.

Rock being the consummate professional he was, returns from his hiatus in Hollywood, the absolute biggest star in wrestling, with the sole goal of putting over this rookie clean in the middle of the ring, dropping the title. Some so called stars around today could do with taking a leaf out of The Rock’s book. Ah crap, now I’m getting all misty eyed for The Rock. Screw the movies Rock, screw the big pay cheques, come back to the sleaziest business in the world, come back to paying for your own travel, accommodation and food, spending most of the year on the road and taking bumps every night for a promoter that doesn’t care about you. We all miss you. Seriously, is there anyone, ANYONE in wrestling right now as good as The Rock was, with 1/10 of his star quality, 1/10 of his charisma, 1/10 the performer he was? I better start watching this match before I weep openly.

Buildup to the match was very simple yet one of the most effective buildups the WWE has ever done as they start running these fantastic video packages with Rock and Lesnar looking like a million bucks training for what comes across as a legitimate battle, a real fight between two gladiators. They gave people a reason to care about the match and guess what; there was no ‘comedy’ involved. Still some of the very best stuff the WWE has ever done. They tried to do something similar for the Triple H vs. Cena match at Wrestlemania but they didn’t come close to being as good as the Lesnar vs. Rock ones.

This just in, Shawn Michaels has left Wembley Stadium.

Crowd at Summerslam 2002 was red hot all night and Lesnar is the overwhelming crowd favourite throughout this match and I think this may have been the very first instance for a lot of people where they started thinking the WWE could have something with Brock Lesnar.

The Rock leaves the belt in the aisle, storms the ring and it is on like gangbusters. Lesnar cuts him off by pinging him across the ring with an Overhead Belly to Belly and kicks his ass, working over the injured ribs. Heyman takes a shot at Rock outside and Lesnar kicks his ass some more. Back in the ring, another Overhead Belly to Belly, Rock tries a comeback, but Heyman trips him up. Crowd is all over Rock like he crapped in their breakfast that morning, tore up their autograph books and pushed over their granny. Rock is smart enough to work heel though. Lesnar continues to dominate, before Rock lays him out with a Belly to Back Suplex. Double kip up and they stare each other down. Rock tries to knock him down with two Clotheslines but Lesnar is all ‘kiss my ass punk’, Rock knocks him down with the third, gets a DDT and his horrible Sharpshooter. Seriously, Rock used that roughly a thousand times and no one ever bothered to tell him that it sucked? Lesnar gets a ‘Lets go Lesnar’ chant. Rock releases the hold to go after Heyman but Lesnar nails him in the ribs with a chair and locks in the Bearhug that ‘killed’ Hulkamania (for the 18377264374th time) a couple weeks earlier. Rock Low Blows him Low in the love spuds and Lesnar bumps to the floor off that crappy spit slap thing Rock used to do. Heyman gets a Rock Bottom through the table for calling Rock’s mother a ‘skank bag’. Back in the ring, Rock Bottom on Lesnar gets 2. Rock gives a great ‘What the hell do I have to do to stop this guy?’, but silly Rock, you CAN’T stop this guy. Lesnar is out there. He can’t be bargained with. He can’t be reasoned with. He doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. Lesnar gets another chant so Rock soaks it in before getting dropped with a Lesnar Rock Bottom. That is like an old man turned 98 that won the Lottery and then died the next day or a death row pardon two minutes too late or maybe even a free ride when you’ve already paid. Rock with the Spinebuster, Lesnar no sells it and kills Rock with a Clothesline during the Peoples Elbow attempt, one F5 later and Brock Lesnar is YOUR new WWE Champion.

Nothing spectacular, nothing that is going to blow you away, but a good, solid match. It was very Vader vs. Sting in that the established star was pretty much dominated from bell to bell and beaten clean by a guy that became a legitimate main eventer overnight.

Lesnar would go on to become one of my absolute favourite wrestlers ever and would have probably my favourite WWE match of recent times against Eddie at No Way Out 2004 on his way out. Shame he became disenchanted with the WWE, had he stuck around, continued working his ass off the way he was and continued improving, I really do think he could have become one of the all time greats. He was one of the very few, if not the only one, they brought up from development that just seemed to get ‘it’, seemed to get what it took to be considered great. Rock took Lesnar in this match and was all ‘Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, and which is more, you’ll be a Man, my son’, before riding off into the sunset to make more bad films.

God I miss The Rock.