Saturday, August 2, 2014
Summerslam got started way back in 1988 which for an old guy like me don’t seem all that long ago but it really is. That event was headlined by one of the most unique tag-team matches in the history of the WWF at the time. Randy Savage the World Champion was challenged to a tag-team match by Million Dollar Man and his Partner Andre the Giant. Savage would team for the first time with Hulk Hogan who had been dubbed as the Mega-Powers in the fall of 1987 and would end up working together to help Savage secure the World Title at Wrestlemania 4. It would be the first time that the Madness and the Mania would team up officially in the ring. Just to add a little more doubt to the match we had special guest Referee Jessie the Body Ventura. A role that Ventura would reprise years later as the current Governor of Minnesota in a World Championship Match 11 years later in the “Attitude Era” in 1999.
When you look at Summerslam it is not an event that is necessarily remembered for his great title matches. Sure it has had some that include the man challenging for the title this year Brock Lesnar defeating The Rock for his first world title. However that match was over shadowed by my personal favourite Summerslam match of all time between Triple H and a returning after a four year absence Shawn Michaels. It had been just over 4 years since HBK had been in a match in the WWF. He returned like he had left last week and had a very memorable match with Triple H. It was suppose to be his only match but would end up being a run that lasted till Wrestlemania 26 where he was retired by the Undertaker. It really was the start of a second career in a sense for Shawn Michaels who already had a hall of fame resume but also had a fairly unflattering reputation. Shawn is known by many names including “Mr. Wrestlemania” if there is a “Mr’ Summerslam” it may well be his greatest rival Bret Hart.
Michaels famously screwed Hart out of title at Summerslam when he refereed a match with Hart and the Undertaker in 1997. It would set in motion all the events that would lead to that infamous match in Montreal later that year in November. Hart had some of his best matches for not the World Title but for the Intercontinental title at Summerslam. It was a match of firsts in which he defended the title against his brother-in-law Davey Boy Smith the British Bulldog. It is the first and I believe only time the I-C title has main evented a pay-per-view. It was first and only time a pay-per-view was held outside of North America in London, England. The match was a wrestling clinic and had the emotion of the real life family element too it. Hart lost the match but was the star of it in many ways. That was in 1992. A year earlier an injured in real life Mr Perfect battling back pain would not let that stop him from putting on a classic and putting over Bret Hard to win the same Intercontinental title. It was at the time considered the best match of Bret’s career. He battled for the WWF Title with his brother Owen in a Steel Cage match too.
Summerslam has had some major mistakes as well. Long before Vince McMahon was calling the match with John Cena and Daniel Bryan “ A Swing and a miss,” in terms of drawing it had some bigger train wrecks in the event’s history. Lex Lugar and his summer on the “Lex Express” ended at Summerslam with a count out victory over Yokozuna to win the match but not the title. Another epic failure was the infamous Undertaker vs. Undertaker feud that just came off as goofy and silly.
Summerslam even has had a wedding with the two people that started this event in the first place. Randy Savage would part ways with Miss Elizabeth in storyline of wrestling for just over two years working with Sherri Martel as the Macho King for most of that time. After losing to the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania 7 and as a result his career he would be reunited with Elizabeth. They two would than tie the knot few months later at Summerslam. It remains the only wrestling wedding that did not end in chaos. Although their reception would have an angle in which the happy couple was given a Cobra and it would lead to Randy getting re-instated to feud with Jake “the Snake” Roberts getting him out of his forced retirement.
Other moments that stick out is a young Randy Orton winning his first WWE Title over Chris Benoit. It is remembered more I think because we never really get to see it based on the tragic situation that Benoit will forever be tied too. That match took place in Toronto. Edge that is from Toronto had his feud with John Cena main event a Summerslam in his hometown of Boston. They two would top that match a month later in a TLC match at Unforgiven in the year of 2006.
The summer of Punk WWE version featured a re-match between him and John Cena from Money in the Bank where Punk left the company with the title. In his absence, John Cena through a series of events would become Champion again in his absence. It led to the re-match with in a sense Champion vs. Champion. In the end the re-match is not nearly as memorable as Punk did win only to have Kevin Nash Powerbomb him and have Alberto Del Rio cash in and take the title.
We could go on forever as I haven’t even mentioned the match with Triple H and Rock in a ladder match for the I-C Title. No mention of Austin and Undertaker on the highway to hell to Summerslam. In addition an infamous match between Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan. The WWE bills this as the biggest event of the summer and some years it has been and others it hasn’t been. It is a unique event that was the part of the big four pay per views that were created in the 1980’s and still exist to this day.
Those are just some of the many memories that will come to your mind when you think of Summerslam. Will we remember anything from this year, as it becomes part of the legacy of this event as the years go by? It remains to be seen but the history is long and has some of the biggest names in the history of wrestling.
Perhaps the first ever Summerslam of sorts happened prior to 1988. It was “The Big Event” in 1986 that likely inspired the creation of such an event as well as giving the WWE the confidence they could fill the Silverrdome for Wrestlemania 3. Over 50,000 people filled the CNE stadium in late August on a fairly cold night for that time of year.
Summerslam today is seen as the unofficial mid-season for the WWE where we start to look ahead to the next Wrestlemnia to conclude another wrestling calendar year.
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