Thursday, June 27, 2024

The History of WWE SummerSlam (1994)

Taker vs. Taker - what a shitshow.....

SummerSlam '94 - United Center - 8/29/94

This here is about half of a good PPV.  The summer of '94 in the WWF was largely centered around the Bret vs. Owen feud, which was fantastic.  It would come to a head at SummerSlam, as the two brothers dueled in a steel cage.  Unfortunately the match didn't quite live up to my expectations, nor was it even the main event of the show.

Bizarrely they decided to have the returning Undertaker (absent since January after losing a Casket Match to Yokozuna) fight his doppelganger in the main event of SummerSlam, without really establishing first that the doppelganger was a fake.  Ted Dibiase showed up on WWF TV and announced Taker's return, then brought him out to wrestle.  And it was fairly obvious this was not Mark Callaway, but not obvious enough that we the audience could see where they were going with it.  It was as though Callaway had been fired and they tried in earnest to pass off impostor Brian Lee as the same man.  Then suddenly there were house show cards being booked with two separate Undertakers, but none of this was mentioned in the actual storylines.  And then the announcement came that at SummerSlam the main event would be Undertaker vs. Undertaker.  Just a very sloppily thrown-together angle.

Wait, why is Taker in the ring with that cosplayer?

The match itself was a nap-inducing nine minutes.  Think of how boring it would be to watch two zombies fight each other.  Just slow, plodding, devoid of any selling, and a dead crowd to boot.  Why they thought this should close the show is beyond me.

The real main event of the show was the aforementioned Bret vs. Owen cage match.  And it was very good, but not great.  The Bret-Owen match at WrestleMania X was amazing and still holds up as one of the best pure wrestling matches I've ever seen.  The cage match however devolved into a series of quick escape attempts and rather wasted the considerable talents of both guys.  I'm really not sure why this match is considered such a benchmark, when both guys wrestled literally dozens of better matches.  But it was a solid main event that didn't get to be the main event.

There were two other good matches on the card, one of which was an Intercontinental Title rematch between Diesel and Razor Ramon.  This was nothing amazing, but it was a very well-worked big man match enhanced by the outside the ring shenanigans involving Shawn Michaels and Walter Payton.  I'm not sure why there wasn't room on the card for Shawn to wrestle, but oh well.

The other standout match (and the real show-stealer as far as I'm concerned) was the Women's Title match between Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano.  Alundra (otherwise known as Madusa Miceli) was a highly athletic, accomplished worker and found a perfect foil in the Japanese powerhouse Nakano.  This match was a classic David vs. Goliath contest except with super athletic female wrestlers.  It's also notable for being the first time I ever saw the Scorpion Crosslock performed - one of my all-time favorite submission holds.

What a great submission hold.....

The rest of the show is entirely forgettable - Lex Luger vs. Tatanka (in a match built around Tatanka accusing Luger of selling out to Ted Dibiase, only to reveal that he himself sold out), Bam Bam Bigelow/IRS vs. The Headshrinkers (which was supposed to be for the Tag Titles until the night before when Shawn & Diesel won them off the 'Shrinkers, thus making this match pointless), and Jeff Jarrett vs. Mabel (in a match that belonged nowhere near a PPV event).

The 1994 edition felt rather half-assed.  Only three bouts that could be classified as good, a main event that is nigh unwatchable, and three totally inconsequential matches.  Plus Shawn Michaels and Yokozuna didn't wrestle at all.

Best Match: Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano
Worst Match: Undertaker vs. Undertaker
What I'd Change: Obviously Bret vs. Owen should've gone last, and I would've made it a Submission match.  I also would've made the Taker vs. Taker angle much clearer so the climactic bout would've had heat rather than confusion.
Most Disappointing Match: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart - seriously, this should be a five-star match but instead it's only about ***3/4.
Most Pleasant Surprise: The Women's match.  I wasn't expecting much of this and it stole the show.
Overall Rating: 4.5/10
Better than WrestleMania X? - God no.


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