Monday, July 17, 2023

The History of WWE Summerslam (1995)

In 1995 the WWF was running on Diesel Power, and it was fairly disastrous both commercially and critically.  But this show was pretty decent in spite of itself....

SummerSlam '95 - The Igloo - 8/27/95

Here's a show that on paper looks absolutely wretched.  A weak main event, a slew of free TV-caliber matches, a host of top talent missing from the card (seriously, were Owen, Bulldog, Yokozuna, Sid & Luger booked elsewhere that night??), and only one PPV-worthy bout.  Yet somehow this was a pretty good PPV with a host of entertaining matches.

The main event is one of the weakest in SummerSlam history.  In yet another attempt to recreate Hogan vs. Andre, they booked Diesel to face the newest King of the Ring, Mabel.  There was literally zero heat between these two, and if they insisted on doing another Power Wrestler vs. Fat Guy match, why not book Yokozuna to win the KOTR tourney and challenge Diesel?  At least Yokozuna had Championship credibility, ya know, having been a former Champion.  The match was predictably underwhelming and short.

Wait, why is Diesel in the ring with a guy in a Grimace costume?

The real standout of this SummerSlam was of course the Ladder rematch for the I-C belt between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon, the two men who defined the Ladder Match 17 months earlier.  While not up to the legendary status of their first go-round, this is still a damn fine Ladder Match with memorable spots involving TWO ladders (In 1995 the idea of a second ladder being introduced was mind-blowing. No I'm serious.) and a different dynamic being that both guys were now babyfaces.

I hope Razor got a helluva Christmas gift that year for saving Shawn's life.

As I said before, most of this card was taken up by free TV-type matches, including an excellent hot opener of Hakushi vs. 1-2-3 Kid, a good squash between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Bob Holly, a Bertha Faye Women's Title win over Alundra Blayze that was so forgettable I literally forgot to mention it in the first draft of this article, a jobber match between Skip and Barry Horowitz (what was this feud doing on PPV??), and Bret Hart fighting Jerry Lawler's protege Isaac Yankem (who went on to much better things a few years later) in a rare miss for Bret (he never did have much chemistry with Glen Jacobs unfortunately).

The unexpected hit of the night was the Undertaker's Casket Match against Kama.  I had no hopes at all of liking this match, but it ended up being one of the better matches of the night.

All in all while I'm not sure what the company was thinking putting together such a lackluster lineup for the second biggest show of the year, SummerSlam '95 is still a pretty decent watch, if not all that memorable.

Best Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon
Worst Match: Smokin' Gunns vs. Blu Brothers (I ask again, why were Owen and Yokozuna, the WWF Tag Champions, not on this show??)
What I'd Change: A lot.  The problem was the overabundance of heels and the dearth of babyfaces.  First, since Davey Boy Smith turned heel just before this, why not book him against his former tag partner Lex Luger?  Swap out the Horowitz match for that.  Next, let's go with Diesel vs. Yokozuna as the main event.  Have Mabel fight Bret perhaps.  Since "it takes a king to know a king," Lawler could've recruited Mabel to go after his sworn enemy.  Third, since Hakushi wasn't going to be pushed long-term anyway, sub in Owen Hart to fight 1-2-3 Kid.  It would still be a blistering match and Owen would've actually gotten on the card.  That just leaves Sid as the one omission, and he obviously wasn't missed.
Most Disappointing Match: Bret Hart vs. Isaac Yankem - Jacobs just wasn't there yet as far as in-ring ability, it was a dumb gimmick, and even Bret couldn't get a good match out of him at that point.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Undertaker vs. Kama
Overall Rating: 6/10
Better than WrestleMania XI? - Yes


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