Three decades on since the WWE’s last Stadium show, Matthew Roberts checks out WWE Home Video’s 30th anniversary blu-ray release of SummerSlam 1992.
I’m not sure if I ever really asked my parents if they would take me to this show. It probably never occurred to me that, even with it being in London, it was a possibility. It came at a time in my fandom when wrestling possibly not being 100% “real” was an idea in my mind but also, paradoxically, at a time when I wasn’t smartened up to the fact that Davey Boy Smith’s win was a formality. With it airing two days AFTER it was taped, I had to avoid the Sunday papers that had a big centrefold spread of the event with the confirmation that Davey Boy had done it.
So there’s a warm nostalgia for putting this in the machine. That of a “simpler” time when there was no internet to “spoil” things and there was no question of whether someone would be “booked” to win a match. And yet looking back thirty years on there’s no doubting that it was something of a mismatched card. However understandable for reasons, the top two matches are babyface vs babyface. Ongoing feuds (such as Big Boss Man Vs Nailz) are sidelined in favour of random matches. But how does the event stand up thirty years on? You can watch the show either “as broadcast” or with the dark matches shown first (they are also available individually from the menu).
The show proper kicks off with Legion of Doom versus Money Inc. This could have been a lot better if not for the fact that Hawk was high on something. It’s not something 13 year old me would have noticed but when you know the stories of his condition on the night it’s difficult not to see it looming large. Presumably that’s why we don’t get a Doomsday Device finish! As we’ve got two over teams opening up the PPV part of the show though it’s got enough atmosphere and three men working hard to make it a perfectly serviceable opener.
Nailz, who also features heavily on the Superstars episodes included as extras on this blu-ray, may well be THE worst in-ring performer of any (relative) note in WWE history. Sure there have been worse (possibly) but the guy is just awful. Maybe it’s the “style” he’s been told to adopt but he really is/was awful. A squash match win over Virgil is just as bad as it sounds, although mercifully it’s over in less than four minutes.
Rick “The Model” Martel and Shawn Michaels meet next in a heel versus heel encounter where both men have agreed (thanks to the prompting of Sensational Sherri) not to hit each other in the face. For 1992, Sherri’s outfit is rather, erm, daring. Even Vince and Bobby have to acknowledge that. The match itself is fine even if it’s more “entertainment” than “sports”. The double Countout finish is lame though; would it really have hurt to put HBK over here (considering that if SummerSlam had taken place in the original venue of Washington DC Michaels was slated to defeat Bret Hart for the IC title).
The World Tag Team title match pitting champions The Natural Disasters against The Beverley Brothers goes downhill after we’ve heard the challengers hugely underappreciated theme music. It’s mostly Typhoon being beaten up by Beau and Blake until Earthquake makes the hot tag and gets the win. It might, though, be better than the clash of former Demolition team-mates Crush and Repo “Smash” Man. It’s a match that would have been better suited to Superstars than a PPV.
The crowd then comes unglued for Macho Man Randy Savage’s World Title defence against The Ultimate Warrior. The build up centred around Ric Flair and Mr Perfect teasing that Curt would be in the corner of one of the two at the event but needless to say that was all subterfuge. The two can’t quite match their classic WrestleMania VII match but there is an undoubted chemistry between the two and it might be the only near half-hour long Warrior match in history. (Don’t quote me on that, but most of his other high profile singles matches appear to be around the twenty minute mark). And it’s really rather good, only spoiled by the non-finish. You can’t imagine that would have been the case if SummerSlam had been in the USA .
The Undertaker’s entrance for his match with Kamala is the highlight of that one. It’s quite merciful though that the match goes less than four minutes so whilst it is bad, it’s short.
That just leaves the Intercontinental Title match between Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith. For UK fans it’s one of the most famous wrestling bouts in history. And whilst time (and Bret Hart thinking that getting the story out about how great he was to carry a coked-up Davey to a classic was/is more important that perhaps protecting the legacy of the Bulldog) has perhaps lessened it’s sheen just a little bit it still stands up as a fantastic match to this day.
SummerSlam 1992 is an historic show but it would be fair to say that in the ring it was only really elevated by the World Title and Intercontinental title matches. The only really good thing to say about the majority of the rest is that at least the awful matches are quick and to the point and rarely outstay their welcome. Still, it’s an historic event and anyone who was either there or a fan at the time will want this in their collection.
In terms of extra’s we get three “dark matches. Papa Shango Vs Tito Santana, Tatanka Vs The Bezerker and Jim Duggan & The Bushwhackers Vs The Mountie & The Nasty Boys are not exactly classics but it’s nice to have them on the set. More interesting is the never before seen Summerslam 1992 Countdown Show and the three episodes of WWE Superstars that led up to the PPV event.
The former is your basic PPV shill but is great fun for those of us who remember similar segments on TV show in the era. In amongst the traditional squash matches on Superstars we also get “name” matches such as Big Boss Man Vs Skinner and Repo Man & Beverly Brothers vs. Jim Duggan & The Bushwhackers as well as jobber appearances by Louie Spicolli, Scott Taylor and Perry Saturn. There’s also plenty of build up to Summerslam. One of my favourite bits is a random Bruce Hart promo where he lambasts the ego of his brother Bret and says he might not be quite as good as he thinks he is! All three episode fly by and are great fun for old-school fans.
SummerSlam 1992 | 8 out of 10
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE. Thank you to WWE Home Video for our review copy of Summerslam 1992 which is out Monday 29 August on DVD and Blu-Ray. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.