SummerSlam 1994

The Hart family explodes inside the confines of a Steel Cage, and the Undertakers do battle!

Mysteries were all over the wrestling landscape in 1994. Over in WCW, everyone was wondering about the identity of the masked man who took out Hulk Hogan’s knee at the August CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS. But the WWF took things a bit further, announcing a match between two Undertakers as the main event of SummerSlam ’94 They even got Leslie Nielson and George Kennedy – the stars of the Naked Gun series – to investigate! The third Naked Gun movie was released in theaters in March 1994. Jumping on something five months later – I guess maybe for the home video release? – is actually pretty swift for the WWF.

The pay-per-view kicks off with “Macho Man” Randy Savage serving as host, welcoming fans to the newly-built United Center in Chicago, which the WWF would quickly abandon in favor of returning to the Rosemont Horizon, in the city’s north suburbs, which has been the home of a number of pay-per-views and WWE Network Specials.

Bam Bam Bigelow and IRS vs. The Headshrinkers – This is a reverse of the situation with SUMMERSLAM 1989, when the Brain Busters won the titles after they signed for the match with the Hart Foundation, so the match remained non-title. Here, the Headshrinkers lost the titles the night before to Shawn Michaels and Diesel, taking the title opportunity away from the Million Dollar Corporation. Even without any real stakes, we get a shmozz ending, with IRS and Bigelow winning by disqualification when manager Afa came into the ring and assaulted Bigelow after Bigelow knocked out Capt. Lou Albano. I like all of the guys involved in the match, and it was a lot of fun while it lasted, but the ending seemed like a waste.

We get our introductions to Nielson and Kennedy, reprising their Naked Gun roles, with some absurdist comedy.

WWF Women’s Championship: Alundra Blayze (c) vs. Bull Nakano – The challenger’s hair, sticking straight up, has to add about a foot to her height. Both Blayze, better known as Medusa, and Nakano’s matches are generally well-regarded. And while they’re a step above what we had seen from women’s wrestling up until that point outside of the Jumping Bomb Angels, it still feels well below the quality we get today. Lots of hair pulling and hair throwing and choking. Once the ladies got down to business, however, this match was pretty hard-hitting. Nakano misses a top rope legdrop and Blayze capitalizes with a German suplex bridge for the pin, retaining her title.

Intercontinental Championship Match: Diesel (c) vs. Razor Ramon – Diesel has Michaels in his corner, while Ramon has “Sweetness” Walter Payton at ringside for him. The Kliq really did enjoy having matches with each other. Ramon and Diesel really do work well together, even though Diesel is still pretty green here. Just think, he’d be WWF Champion before the end of the year. Even though Michaels and Diesel won the tag team titles the night before, this is really the beginning of the end of their alliance. Michaels tries to hit Ramon with Sweet Chin Music, but Ramon ducks and Michaels hits Diesel instead, giving Ramon the win and his second Intercontinental Championship.

Tatanka vs. Lex Luger – The match was set up because Tatanka accused Luger of “selling out” to the “Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase. Of course, the whole thing was a swerve that pretty much everyone saw coming. Well, maybe not the 56 percent of the people who called the WWF Hotline and voted to say Luger took the money. The whole thing seemed obvious to me, at 14, but who knows. The match is nothing but angle, setting up the obvious swerve, which leads to Tatanka winning with a roll-up in 6 minutes. During the post-match beat-down, as Tatanka shows his allegiance to DiBiase, the camera does a close-up on one of the bills Luger threw on the floor and it’s only $10! There are a number of jokes that can be made there, and I’ll let everyone else make them.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Mabel

Yeah, Jarrett wins.

Vince throws it to Leslie Nielson and George Kennedy, never referring to them by name and only calling them, “our super-sleuths.” We’re up to our two main events with about 90 minutes left to go, burning through five matches in a little more than an hour. So first we get a lengthy recap of the Hart family feud. They’re covering for the lengthy time it’s taking to put the steel cage together, so we get a whole lot of interaction with the Harts at ringside, which takes up most of one section.

WWF Championship Steel Cage Match: Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) vs. Owen Hart – After having one of the best matches of the night at WRESTLEMANIA X, the Hart family feud was always going to steal the show at SummerSlam. There was nothing on this card that was going to come close. The brothers did it without shedding any blood in a steel cage match, to boot. The cage was an important part of the match, but it wasn’t used as a weapon as much as it is in the usual steel cage grudge match fashion. Bret and Owen crafted a masterpiece where the escape rules of a WWF cage match were highlighted from jump street, with challenger Owen looking for quick and easy ways to get out to claim the title and Bret doing what he could to keep his “baby brother,” as Vince McMahon referred to Owen, under control. The Chicago crowd was hot for the battle, living and dying with every escape attempt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two guys leap to catch someone’s feet as I did in this match. I assume Dolph Ziggler got all of his cage match moves from watching this one on repeat. Bret finally manages to escape the cage, kicking off a beatdown when his former partner JIM NEIDHART sends Bret back into the ring and joins Owen in attacking Bret as the rest of the extended Hart family tries to get in the cage. I don’t think the Harts were capable of a bad match at this point. Easily one of the best SummerSlam matches ever.

We now get a lengthy feature on the double Undertaker main event as the ring crew tears down the cage. The whole dual Undertaker thing was completely ridiculous even back then, made worse by the voiceover from Todd Pettingill.

The Undertaker vs. The Undertaker – The winner of this match will be The Undertaker. Obviously. Ted DiBiase’s Dead Man is Brian Lee, who is clearly a couple of inches shorter than Mark Calloway, though no one deigns to mention it. The one, true Undertaker had been off since he lost a casket match to Yokozuna at the 1994 Royal Rumble. And when manager Paul Bearer reintroduces him to the crowd, it is one of the most exquisite, bizarre examples of bad overacting I’ve ever seen from the WWF. The crowd is bewildered by this match, cheering louder before and after the match than they did during it. Bearer’s Undertaker wins and Brian Lee goes away for a while. Leslie Nielson and George Kennedy leave to go get a sandwich.

Final Thought: This was a show. The “New Generation” was not a good generation. At least we had the Hart brothers and the Kliq to give us something watchable.