Vince McMahon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan welcome us to The Palace at Auburn Hills (outside Detroit MI) on August 30, 1993 for that year's SummerSlam.
Match 1: “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase VS Razor Ramon
Dibiase jumps Razor at the very start of the match but is quickly put down and dominated by the bigger Ramon. It’s not until Dibiase begins to choke Razor that the heel is able to get the advantage. He puts Razor in a headlock that leads to an ‘arm raise’ spot and a ‘false hope’ comeback. Dibiase attempts the ‘Million Dollar Dream’ but is countered only for Razor to end up on the floor as Dibiase removes the pad from one of the turnbuckles. Razor counters the attempt to use the unprotected turnbuckle against him and drives Dibiase’s head into it. Dibiase is on the receiving end of the “Razor’s Edge” and gets the pin and the victory.
This is a solid match. It’s nothing special but it accomplishes what it needs to and doesn’t take too long to do it. Razor looks good in the victory and Dibiase gets enough offense in for it to look like a contest.
Match Grade: C+
Following the match is an in arena interview with the mother and sister of the Steiner Brothers. It’s not a great interview but is perfectly interrupted by Jim Cornette in the ring introducing his tag team for the next match.
Match 2: The Heavenly Bodies (“Gigolo” Jimmy Del Ray and “Doctor” Tom Pritchard) w/Jim Cornette VS The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott Steiner) (Tag Team Champions) for the Tag Team Titles.
The Bodies jump the Steiners as the bell rings but end up getting cleared from the ring themselves. Scott puts is some good work on the Bodies as Cornette gets more and more flustered on the outside of the ring. The Bodies try to confer with their manager as the cameraman zooms and is promptly yelled at by a red faced Cornette. They return to the ring and isolate Scott while using quick tags to maintain the advantage. Scott gets a bit of offense in and eventually gets the hot tag to Rick. Both brothers take over the match and look dominant until Pritchard uses Jim’s tennis racket on Rick. The illegal tactic only manages a two-count and leads to a ‘Frankensteiner’ and The Steiners getting the win and retaining the titles in front of their hometown crowd.
This is a classic Cornette match in many respects. It builds well towards the finish and is exciting without being too over the top. There’s quite a bit of double teaming but it makes sense in the context of the match and the hot tag is perfectly timed. I don’t think it’s the best match either team has ever had but it’s one of the better matches from the Steiners’ run in WWE.
Match Grade: B
Next up is a rather mediocre promo from Shawn Michaels and Diesel.
Match 3: “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (Intercontinental Champion) w/Diesel VS Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental Championship
During the entrances to this match we see the WWF radio booth with Jim Ross and Gorilla Monsoon on commentary and I couldn’t help thinking how much I wished I could hear them on the TV broadcast than Vince.
The match starts with a good amount of back and forth as the two opponents seek an advantage. Perfect ends up with a small one and begins working on HBK’s arm. They then go into a longer than usual sequence of quick exchanges and counters. They come out of it right where they went in, however, with Perfect controlling HBK’s arm. He works the hold for a bit but ends up on the floor and being distracted by Diesel only to turn around and eat a superkick to the jaw and get rolled back into the ring.
HBK has the advantage for a bit but Perfect gets a nice comeback that culminates in a ‘Perfectplex’. Diesel pulls Perfect of Michaels during the pin and tries to attack him outside. Shawn comes out to help and the numbers game catches up with Perfect as HBK rolls into the ring as the ref finishes his count. HBK wins but count out and retains the title. Perfect attacks Michaels after the match but Diesel knocks him out with a big right hand.
With the exception of the finish, this is a very good match. HBK and Perfect are a great matchup almost anytime as their styles compliment each other’s very well. I understand why they used the count out here but I’d rather have seen a better screw of the babyface than that. That being said, this is probably the best match on the ppv.
Match Grade: A
We go backstage to get a promo from a very nervous 1-2-3 Kid ahead of his very first ppv appearance.
Match 4: I.R.S. VS The 1-2-3 Kid
IRS dominates much of this match as Kid tries for quick pins and comebacks. There’s a good amount of 2-counts and Kid puts up a good fight but IRS wins with a flying shoulder tackle.
This is a decent match but nothing special.
Match Grade: C
Following the match there’s an in arena interview with Bruce and Owen Hart. They say that their dad is in the hospital after knee surgery and couldn’t be here so they are representing the Hart family as they cheer on Bret as he takes on Lawler for the King of the Ring title. Bret won the King of the Ring tournament that year but Jerry Lawler claimed that he was the only King in the WWF. That, along with his almost constant digs at the Hart family led to this being a super intense rivalry.
Bret comes out to the ring, as usual, but when Lawler’s music hits he comes out on crutches. He claims that he was in a car accident and can’t compete. He chooses Doink the Clown to replace him in the match.
Match 5: Bret “Hitman” Hart VS Doink the Clown
Bret gets the advantage early in this match but his preoccupation with King leads to Doink swinging the momentum in his favor. Doink spends a good amount of time working over Bret’s leg and looks way better in the ring than I remember him being. He comes off the top rope but gets caught on Bret’s knees. This gives Bret the advantage and ends with Doink in the ‘Sharpshooter’. While Doink is in the submission lock, Lawler sneaks up and attacks Bret with one of his crutches. This leads to a disqualification and Bret gets the victory.
I really enjoyed this match. Doink impressed me quite a bit with his in ring work. Lawler seemed to come out of nowhere with the crutch and everything worked well.
Match Grade: B
As Bret is trying to get to King, who is fleeing towards the back, Jack Tunney (WWF president) comes out and goes to ringside. It is then announced that since Lawler is not injured then he will face Bret as originally planned.
Match 6: Bret “Hitman” Hart VS Jerry “The King” Lawler
Bret starts out with the advantage but his aggression soon backfires and he ends up getting worked over by Lawler. King uses the crutch pieces around the ring wonderfully and is in full heel mode. Bret manages to get the advantage back and puts Lawler in the sharpshooter. Lawler submits and Bret wins.
This is a much different match than the one with Doink. Jerry does a fantastic job of being a heel and is perfect as he destroys Bret. It’s not a long match but it is very intense.
Match Grade: B
After the bell, Bret refuses to release the ‘Sharpshooter’ he has on Lawler. This results in almost twenty people in the ring trying to convince him to let it go. It goes on way too long, even for the angle that follows, but he does eventually release it. There’s an announcement that due to his refusal to let the hold go that the decision of the match has been reversed and that Lawler wins by disqualification. Brett attacks Lawler again and yells at the ref as King is wheeled to the back on a stretcher.
This is followed by a promo from Ludvig Borga. It’s a pretty good promo but after that last match it falls pretty flat.
Match 7: Marty Jannetty VS Ludvig Borga
This is a squash match. Only thing of note is that Jannetty has a great superkick, almost better than HBK’s at that time. Borga uses the Torture rack to win.
Squash matches don’t belong on ppvs, in my opinion. Borga looked okay but limited in his offense while Jannetty was obviously doing a job because he’s a much better wrestler than what was in the ring. Only reason this doesn’t fail is because it does what it’s supposed to.
Match Grade: D-
Match 8: Giant Gonzalez w/Harvey Wippleman VS The Undertaker in a R.I.P. Match (basically a no DQ match)
Taker comes out the gate strong but a distraction by Harvey leads to Giant getting the advantage. Giant hits Taker with a chair on the outside of the ring. Taker keeps trying to get to the urn that Harvey has stolen. The gong hits and out comes Paul Bearer. He knocks Harvey down and retrieves the urn. Taker does his signature ‘sit up’ and takes control. He dives off the top rope and pins Gonzalez. Taker wins the match. Gonzalez turns on Harvey and gently slams him in the ring and walks to the back.
Giant Gonzalez is not good. He’s a guy you can steal a ppv with but once you’ve seen him wrestler then there’s no reason to want to see him again. Watching Taker sell his terribly weak strikes was very hard. If it weren’t for the return of Paul and the presence of Taker this would be a huge fail.
Match Grade: D
Finally there is a bright spot in the middle of these bad matches. Jim Cornette cuts a fantastic promo on the Steiners and Bodies match earlier and then addresses the main event between Yokozuna and Lex Luger. It’s classic Cornette content and is a breath of fresh air in the stale WWF promo department.
Match 9: The Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart Gunn) and Tatanka VS The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu) w/Apha and Bam Bam Bigelow w/Luna
This whole match is a mess and I struggled to even watch it. There’s very little reason given for why it’s on a ppv or why it’s even happening at all. The Gunns only serve to get beat up and the comeback by Tatanka gets cut off. There’s a triple flying head butt spot by the heels that would have looked impressive if it didn’t miss. Tatanka wins via roll up.
Match Grade: D-
Next is an interview with the bus driver of the Lex Express and then lots of pro USA stuff. The Crowd boos the singing of the Japanese nation anthem. Macho Man comes out as the ‘master of ceremonies’ (a huge waste of him in my opinion) with Aaron Neville. Neville sing the Star Spangled Banner. Vince lays it on ridiculously thick when talking about Luger during the entrances and then they finally start the match.
Main Event: Lex Luger VS Yokozuna (WWF Champion) w/Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette for the WWF Championship.
There’s a great looking stare down at the start of this match before Luger gain the advantage. He gets distracted but arguing with the ref, however, and Zuna capitalizes. Lex attempts to slam Zuna but can’t pick him up and is soon dumped to the floor. Zuna works him over outside the ring but misses with a chair and ends up hitting the ring post. Luger takes this opportunity to regain the advantage.
He hits a great forearm off the top rope but it only yields a two-count. Soon afterwards both men go down when they hit simultaneous clotheslines. Fuji throws the salt bucket into the ring and Zuna slams Luger in the head with it but can only get a two count. Zuna proceeds to pummel Luger from one side on the ring to the other but Lex won’t stay down for the three-count.
The crowd begins a ‘USA’ chant that inspires Lex to ‘hulk up’ but still isn’t enough for him to lift Zuna. After the false hope of a Luger comeback, Zuna attempts the ‘Banzai Drop’ but Lex rolls out of the way. He manages to slam Zuna and hit him with a forearm but, unfortunately, this sends the big man to the floor. Zuna is knocked out outside the ring while Cornette distracts Luger and the bell rings. Lex Luger wins via count out but Yokozuna retains the title.
This is a really good match. They tell a great story of Luger trying to do the impossible and Zuna cutting him off. Lex, to his credit, gets the crap beat out of him but never quits. The finish is perfect as the ‘USA guy’ gets the feel good victory but fails to win the title.
Match Grade: B+
Following the main event there’s a really cheesy music video chronicling the journey of the Lex Express and then a confrontation between Luger and Borga in the back that feels really unnecessary.
As usual for this time period, this is a mixed ppv. There are some good matches and moments but there are some real stinkers as well. The main event, HBK/Perfect, and Brett/Doink/Lawler are the highlights while Taker/Gonzalez, the six man tag, and Jannetty getting beat down by inferior talent drag this one down. All in all it’s another middle of the road ppv that’s fun but not great.
Overall PPV Grade: C