Ah, summer as a teenager. A chance to mow a couple lawns, earn a little cash, and then spend the rest of the sunny, 75-degree days sitting in the house playing with your Hasbro WWF action figures, piling a bunch of weight onto your existing baby fat, and drooling all over yourself waiting for Summerslam.
That’s exactly what I did during the summer of 1993, and pretty much every summer since. I’d been a wrestling fan since I was 3 years old, and I’d heard every pitch, every “Update,” every “Report,” and every plea that “now, even at the 11th hour,” I could still order the next WWF pay-per-view event.
Except that I couldn’t, because I had no money, and quite frankly, neither did my parents. There was a lot of Scramble Vision in my future, to be sure – I didn’t even question if it was the second, third or 12th Ultimate Warrior appearing at WrestleMania VIII, because I couldn’t see the damn guy in the first place!
So in the summer of 1993, I finally took off the feedbag and strapped on the work boots, did some chores, raised some money, and had a cool $29.95 burning a hole in my pocket. And I knew exactly how I wanted to spend it: to watch Summerslam.
I always dug that pay-per-view. It was “the second biggest” PPV of WWF’s year, but it didn’t have the gimmicky matches like the Royal Rumble or Survivor Series. That kinda made it a plucky underdog, which proved itself each year with classics like Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith in 1992, pretty much the whole card in 1991, the Hart Foundation vs. Demolition in 1990, the Harts vs. the Brain Busters in 1989, and nothing at all in 1988.
The card for the 1993 edition of Summerslam was actually quite the culmination of angles, but the show as a whole seems so underwhelming, especially given the finish of the main event as everyone’s No. 1 memory of the show. Here’s a rundown of the show and the set-up for each match:
Razor Ramon vs. Ted DiBiase: Razor had just suffered an embarrassing loss to the 1-2-3 Kid, but crowds were beginning to cheer the ultra-machismatic “Bad Guy,” and so veteran heel DiBiase was used as the pivot point for the Razor character, poking fun at Razor’s loss.
Steiner Bros. vs. Heavenly Bodies: Two months earlier, Jim Cornette made his surprise WWF debut and all but challenged the tag team champion Steiner Brothers to prove who was the better duo in professional wrestling.
Mr. Perfect vs. Shawn Michaels: Perfect had returned in late 1992 and was positioned as a “mentor” to the Heartbreak Kid, but Perfect’s babyface ways didn’t jive with HBK’s bad-boy attitude. The Intercontinental Title was on the line: current champ vs. former “Perfect” champ.
1-2-3 Kid vs. Irwin R. Schyster: This was a by-product of Kid’s friend Razor feuding with Irrrrwin’s friend Ted.
Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler: Lawler, the “King” of professional wrestling, attacked Hart after his King of the Ring win, and then spent the next two months belittling and berating Hart’s elderly, ugly parents, with a verbal onslaught that only Jerry Lawler could unleash.
Marty Janetty vs. Ludvig Borga: Umm, well, by this point, Marty was basically “crambling filt.”
Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez: Seven months prior, Gonzalez debuted by eliminating Undertaker from the Royal Rumble. They had a match at WrestleMania IX that ended in controversy, and so they dragged it out until the blow-off at Summerslam.
Tatanka & Smoking Gunns vs. Bam Bam Bigelow & Headshrinkers: Bam Bam and “the Indian” had a long-standing feud, while the Smoking Gunns were cowboys so wouldn’t that make a funny team, and the Headshrinkers did headbutts and top-rope stuff just like Bigelow.
Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna: After desecrating every American thing Yoko could get us hands on, the former “Narcissus” Luger came out of nowhere on July 4 as a flag-bearing babyface, bodyslammed Yoko on the deck of a war-time aircraft carrier, and traversed the country to drum up support en route to a championship challenge.
Eight out of nine matches with some sort of back-story ain’t bad – definitely enough to pique my pre-pubescent interests.
Too bad the show ended up being as flat as my non-existent girlfriend’s chest.
First of all, despite ordering the PPV eleventy billion hours before it started just like I was told, my feed didn’t kick in until halfway through the Steiners-Bodies match, which meant I missed seeing the third-most-over dude in the company. Rick’s sister called him “Rob.” Perfect-Michaels was a slow-moving stinker with no real emotion. Irwin beating Kid deflated this kid. Borga’s pre-match videos and Bobby Heenan’s pro-Ludvig commentary was better than the match. Taker-Gonzalez sucked ass. The six-man tag at least had some athleticism to it.
The best thing on this show by a country mile was Jerry Lawler’s excuse for not wrestling Bret Hart – a three-minute diatribe about driving a crappy Detroit car (the show was held in Auburn Hills; Heenan hilariously evolved this story into Lawler saving a bunch of orphans from a fiery school bus). In a bit of a bait-and-switch, Lawler’s faked injury caused the talented Doink the Clown to sub in, which led to a good match, but not what we signed up for. When Bret did get his hands on Lawler, it was pure gold, including a nearly 3-minute Sharpshooter, and ending with Lawler being stretchered out with one defiant finger (the index one) in the air.
And the whole thing ended with a great American hero, Lex Luger, knocking the evil kinda-Japanese WWF Champion, Yokozuna, out of the ring so he couldn’t get back in by the 10-count. Boy, we’re a smart bunch. Balloons came down from the ceiling, John Philips Sousa played over the PA, and the Steiners hoisted Luger on their shoulders, parading him around without a title belt anywhere to be seen.
Much like kissing girls and eating vegetables, the whole thing had me asking, “What’s the point?” (If you ask my wife, I still don’t know.)
If you look at the Wikipedia entry for this show and read the “Aftermath” section, it can be summarized like this: It all went nowhere. The Heavenly Bodies were glorified jobbers. Borga didn’t amount to a hill of beans. Michaels was suspended soon after. Hell, Jerry Lawler was suspended soon after! Undertaker feuded with Yokozuna, and the best part about that was that “crambling filt” Marty Janetty getting to play dress-up as ‘Taker and floating up to the heavens at Royal Rumble 1993.
All of that said, my first PPV, which fit into the same “nothing at all” category as 1988, sure wasn’t my last.
I just threw away – as in garbage, as in landfill, as in I can never get them back – approximately 600 pro wrestling VHS tapes, most of them blanks purchased from Walmart or Sam Goody so that I could record a Sunday night PPV event. Thank god, though, for the WWE Network, so that I can access almost all of those hours of shows again. I don’t need to mow a lawn to make money, I don’t need to battle Scramble Vision, and I only need to spend $9.99 to watch a show that, I guess, looks good on paper. Time to get fat again!