July 5, 2007
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
August 27, 1995
Pittsburgh Civic Arena (The Igloo)
Announcer: Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler; Dok Hendrix takes over for the last two matches
Buy Rate: .9
1) Hakushi (Jinsei Shinzaki) defeats 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman) after a modified Powerbomb at 9:24
Scott: This is a great opener to the second biggest show of the year. Hakushi would wrestle on PPV a couple more times, but at that point he was an afterthought. Here he out-wrestles the Kid, who definitely is in need of a heel turn. His character faded right after Wrestlemania due to the injury, and with the growing tension on-screen between he and Razor Ramon, this was destined to happen. It’s a shame Hakushi didn’t last longer than he did, because he was an excellent wrestler with an interesting and unique persona, and that’s what was sorely lacking at this time. Grade: 3
Justin: A pretty good opener to a somewhat underrated show, in my opinion. Given a better main event, this show was not that bad. Kid was definitely ready for a change, as his face shtick was now 2.5 years old, and you can only play the plucky underdog for so long. Hakushi started out so hot with a very good feud with Bret Hart, but is fizzling quickly in the WWF landscape before a hasty change in attitude essentially buries him for good. All in all this was a fun opener between two guys in need of some freshening up and a hot feud. Grade: 3
2) Hunter Hearst-Helmsley (Paul Levesque) defeats Bob Holly (Robert Howard) with the Pedigree at 7:08
Fun Fact: Paul Levesque is from New Hampshire, and began training in Massachusetts in Killer Kowalski’s training school. He made his debut in the IWF in 1992, winning that heavyweight title. He moved on to WCW as lower mid-carder Terra Ryzin, and then changed his name to Jean-Paul Levesque and took on a more snobby blueblood attitude. He toiled with Lord Steven Regal for a while and lost to Alex Wright at Starrcade 1994. He left WCW and was picked up by the WWF in early-1995. He kept his snobby blueblood attitude but his name was changed to something that flowed off the tongue a little better: Hunter Hearst-Helmsley. A vignette aired on the May 1 Raw announcing his debut. His first TV match was on the April 30 Wrestling Challenge when he defeated Buck Zumhoff with a jaw breaker-type move that ironically would become the Stone Cold Stunner. His RAW debut was on May 22 when he defeated John Crystal with what would become his signature move: the Pedigree. His first PPV appearance was at last month’s In Your House as one of the lumberjacks in the Diesel/Sid title match.
Fun Fact II: These two would meet for the WWF Championship on an episode of Heat in the summer of 2000. What a long way they came in just 5 years.
Scott: The in-ring PPV debut of the Greenwich Blueblood is a successful one against Sparky Plugg. HHH definitely paid his dues in his first few months, as he was in low mid-card matches and would eventually be in a no-win feud at the end of the year. More on that in future reviews. The match isn’t bad, and it’s interesting to see the HHH from 1995 was a long way from the HHH we know today. Besides the fact that he was about 80 pounds lighter, he didn’t really have a set arsenal or move-set, which isn’t good when you’re a heel and are supposed to dictate the flow of a match. He would eventually get it down, but for now he’s at the bottom of the food chain, working his way up. Holly’s just there for a PPV payday and to put over the new heel. Grade: 2
Justin: A pretty decent match here between the newcomer and that wily veteran Holly. It’s funny, because Holly was barely on PPV in 1994, but all of a sudden he pops up left and right in 95. Wonder why. You could tell HHH was in store for something of a push, just by his look alone. He was certainly made to pay his dues, however, as he would toil in some odd feuds for the next few months. The crowd gets a bit restless, but the match is kept fairly short and to the point. Hunter picks up his first major win with the Pedigree and gets a nice debut. Grade: 2
3) The Smokin’ Gunns defeat The Blu Brothers when Billy Gunn (Monte Sopp) pins Jacob (Don Harris) after a sidewinder slam at 6:09
Scott: This was an uneventful tag match involving a mid-card heel team, and an upper mid-card face team. For some reason, the Tag Team champions (Owen Hart and Yokozuna) were not on this show, and this was the only tag match on the card. This was a big win for the Gunns, as they have been floating since losing the Owen and Yoko for the titles at Wrestlemania. This win gets them back on track to eventually regain the titles. The Blus don’t last much longer, and soon go off camera to get what will be a few character changes. Grade: 2
Justin: This is a very weird match, and I am not sure why the champs don’t defend at this show. It is just another bizarre McMahon 1995 booking idea, as he left top guys off PPV cards left and right, Luger and Bulldog don’t wrestle here either. The only thing I can think of is that Vince figured he would rotate guys since he was doing monthly PPVs. A decent match that would help the Gunns climb the tag ladder, but really, I’m not sure why the champs were left off and this was put on. The match isn’t bad at all but it just seems so out of place for some reason. Grade: 1.5
4) Barry (James) Horowitz defeats Skip (Chris Candido) with a Small Package at 11:17
Fun Fact: This might be the first time since our first couple of Wrestlemania reviews where both participants are making their PPV debuts. Barry Horowitz is the true example of a wrestling journeyman. He started here in the WWWF in the late 1970s. From there he went to Mid-Atlantic, then to Florida where he was managed by Percy Pringle, a/k/a Paul Bearer, and then on to Memphis as “Stretcher” Jack Hart, then back to the WWF in 1988 as one of the more well-known jobbers on TV. From there he headed to Texas with the Von Erichs and then moved along to the fledgling Global Wrestling Federation. After that he had a brief stint in WCW teaming with Moondog Spot. Finally he returned to the WWF in late-1993 as one of the masked Knights on Shawn Michaels’ team at Survivor Series, so technically this is his second PPV match, but first as himself.
Fun Fact II: Horowitz’ opponent is also a journeyman of sorts. Chris Candido and his girlfriend, Tammy Sytch started in IWCCW with a faction called “Heart Throb 4” with Tom Brandi, Flex Lavender and Darren Wyse. From there he’d head to WWA and then to Smoky Mountain Wrestling in 1993. He’d do well there, winning the US and Television titles there before both headed to the WWF in 1995. Skip’s first match was on the 5/5/95 Raw, defeating Horowitz. Sytch started her career with Candido in Smoky Mountain where she became a very effective heel manager. The enter the WWF as stuck up fitness gurus who would spend most of their time making fun everyone else for being out of shape.
Fun Fact III: This match came about after Horowitz had upset Skip twice in the weeks leading up to the show. The first time was on Action Zone when Skip was doing pushups and Horowitz rolled him up by surprise getting first career win. The match is very memorable for Jim Ross’ call: “Horowitz wins! Horowitz wins! Horowitz wins!” A couple weeks later, Skip challenged Horowitz to go 10 minutes with him on Superstars. Of course, the Jewish Phenom went the full 10 and beat Skip again. The next week, Horowitz was facing Hakushi and Skip came out to get a look at the action. In the chaos, Skip accidentally cost Hakushi the match and Horowitz was now 3-0 in his last 3 TV matches. Hakushi was pissed, which explains why he interferes here. Horowitz got a nice little run, and would remain in the mid-card into the next year.
Scott: This match is memorable for two reasons. First, a career jobber, and I mean career jobber, Barry Horowitz, is put into a program, an actual PPV program. Good for Barry, who had the Jewish entrance music and eventually the Star of David on his tights. The program is with Skip, otherwise known as Chris Candido. He was another career mid-carder who bounced around the Indies. He’s not the other point, though. It’s his manager, and his real-life girlfriend: Tammy Sytch, otherwise known as Sunny. Oh, Sunny…mmmmm….Sunny. Oh, sorry, drifted off for a minute. She makes her PPV debut, and lasts for a little over 3 years, becoming the first real hot, sexy diva of the WWF. The real sexy part comes later. Right now, she’s talking about fitness, and her bodydonna. Pretty good match as Hakushi comes in to cost Skip the match after Skip did it to him a couple of weeks before. Horowitz isn’t as bad a wrestler as you’d think, but then again most jobbers are decent performers. Horowitz would hang around for a few more months, and Skip and Sunny would see better days than this. Grade: 3
Justin: A surprisingly good match with an exciting ending. It was nice to see Barry get a solid push after his years of laying down for everybody and anybody. Skip had some potential, but they never really got a solid push cranking for him, and he would be stuck in mid card hell as the colander changes to 1996. Sunny, of course, was the hottest thing going in 1995-1996 and paved the way for the divas of today. This was a well worked match that actually had a pretty good storyline and has a good ending as well. Horowitz gets the biggest win of his career on the second biggest PPV of the year. Grade: 3
5) Bertha Faye (Rhonda Singh) defeats Alundra Blayze (Debra Miceli) to win WWF Women’s Title with a Powerbomb at 4:38
Fun Fact: Bertha Faye debuted on the 4/3/95 when she attacked Alundra right after Alundra has regained the Title from Bull Nakano. The beating broke Blayze’s nose and she was forced to the sideline to have reconstructive surgery. After losing the belt here, Blayze would regain the title from Faye on October 23rd, and then, in the first holy shit moment of the Wars, walked onto Nitro in December of 1995 and tossed the WWF Women’s Title into the trash. Bischoff has recently said that she was very reluctant to do it, and that she probably regrets it now. The title would remain vacant until September of 1998. After an appearance at Survivor Series, Faye would disappear shortly after, and would show up in WCW in 1999, under the Russo regime. She would stick around there for a bit and then kind of disappeared until her untimely death on July 27, 2001. See here for more details on her career (http://inlewd.com/exclusives/tributes/singh/) as she was actually a pretty big star in Canada and Japan.
Scott: For the second year in a row, Alundra Blayze defends her women’s title against a very large woman, this one managed by Harvey Wippleman. Last year’s match against Bull Nakano was top notch for a women’s match. This one wasn’t as good, but there was a shock. Blayze actually lost. Clean. Bertha Faye is your new Women’s champion. It really didn’t make any sense, considering Blayze wins it back a month or so later. By the end of the year, Blayze would fire one of the first loud shots in the Monday Night Wars, as would someone else at this PPV. But, we will have more on that later. For now a shocking upset, and Harvey’s girlfriend is Women’s Champion. Grade: 2
Justin: Not much here, as Blayze was facing her female heel of the moment. It seems like Alundra would go through the same repetitive story arcs every now and then: big heel comes in, beats her for the title, she wins it back and moves on. Sure, it only happened twice, but she was only around for a little over 2 years. This definitely wasn’t nearly as good as her matches with Bull Nakano, but I guess it gets the point across. Bertha takes the tile in a mild upset, but at this point, very few people really cared. Grade: 1.5
6) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Kama (Charles Wright) in a casket match when Kama is pushed in the casket at 16:54
Fun Fact: These two had this match numerous times on the house show circuit over the summer, and it was a Coliseum Video Exclusive at In Your House #2 in July. Undertaker is seeking revenge after Kama stole his urn at Wrestlemania and made good on his threat of melting it into a chain. For the past month or so, there would be gothic looking fans in the crowd during Kama’s matches, and a black wreath would be delivered ringside when ever he wrestled.
Scott: This is the first of three really good matches in a row on this card. After working on it over the summer at house shows and at IYH #2, they really had it down. It went fairly well, and this one did too, even going a couple of extra minutes from last month’s match. The crowd, even though this continues a bad year for the Deadman, was off the hook for this match. Die-hard fans always were behind the Deadman, and never really paid attention to the crappy feuds from 1994-95, as long as he won in the end. Kama, who would eventually be the Godfather, actually wrestled a pretty good match and may not wrestle one this good ever again. For Taker, it’s another Corporation member pitched. DiBiase should have disbanded the whole group right there, and as the year progresses his heel stable would be passed by Jim Cornette’s “Camp.” Grade: 3
Justin: A solid match, as most Taker casket matches tend to be. Looking back, DiBiase’s Corporation just killed any chance a guy had of getting over. Being with DiBiase pretty much meant you were a big old loser. Bigelow was really the only one who did better with him than without him. This would become even more apparent in 1996 when DiBiase signs a stud to his stable. This would finally end the insipid Taker-Corporation feud, but don’t you worry, Taker’s miserable year was not over yet, as he still has one more feud to battle through before heading back to the top of the cards. Kama would float around for a few months before disappearing for a bit and hitting the sidelines to be repackaged. Grade: 2.5
7) Bret Hart defeats Isaac Yankem (Glen Jacobs) by disqualification at 16:05
Fun Fact: Lawler was so distraught over having, not only Bret’s, but his own foot jammed in his mouth at King of the Ring, that he had to see his dentist to get the taste out. Of course, his dentist happened to be evil and never used any Novocain, so Lawler decided to use this huge monster to dispatch of his hated rival.
Fun Fact II: Isaac Yankem started his career in Memphis in 1993 as Doomsday, and eventually moved on to become the Unibomber in Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He and Al Snow actually defeated the legendary Rock n Roll Express to win the SMW Tag Team Titles. They lost the titles and a “Loser Leaves SMW” match to Tracy Smothers and Dirty White Boy, which led one to ECW, and the other to the big time to become an evil dentist. This would be the first of 3 personas Glen Jacobs would take in the WWE, but the third and last one would be his most enduring character. More on that in future reviews.
Scott: God, how could have the Hitman have put up with this? After dispatching of Jerry Lawler at KOTR, he now must battle…Lawler’s dentist? Can’t this feud just end? I guess you needed to give Bret someone on the second biggest show of the year. In any case, as usual, he carries Yankem to a pretty average 16 minute affair. Bret Hart is one of the 5 greatest wrestlers of all time, but he’s not a miracle worker. Lawler comes in to interfere, ending what was a better match than thought. If you look at what the grade eventually was, the prospects weren’t good. In any case, Hitman finally puts this feud to bed, even though Lawler continues to hate him until Bret undergoes some major changes in 1997. Grade: 2.5
Justin: A pretty solid match here, as Bret continues to make everyone under the sun look like a good wrestler. It is weird, because while goofy, the story at least made some sense and it as a good progression, as opposed to sticking two guys in the ring for the hell of it with some half-assed story. As much as 1995 was retarded, at least everyone had a solid angle going on, so you can get into the matches. Bret would have his blowoff with Yankem in a memorable cage match on Raw later in the year (memorable because Lawler was lifted up into a shark cage and his nose bled due to the heights). Bret would toil for a few months before once again being called upon to save the day. He does a good job here, though, carrying the newcomer to a nifty little match on the big PPV stage. Grade: 3
8) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) defeats Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) in a “ladder match” to retain WWF Intercontinental Title when Michaels grabs the title at 25:00
Fun Fact: This match was originally supposed be Shawn vs. Sid, so Shawn could finally get revenge from the attack in May. However, as his first decision as WWF President (Jack Tunney had resigned in July, and Gorilla was named “Interim” President), Gorilla Monsoon decided that the “fans wanted the ladder rematch.” Sid would face Shawn on Raw a few weeks later, which is also memorable, as it is the first night Eric Bischoff gave away the full results to the taped Raw on his live Nitro.
Scott: The sequel. Who would have thought after their breath-taking match at Wrestlemania X that these two could conceivably put on a second ladder match? Well, they did, and again tore the house off the Steel City. From a match perspective, it was considerably stiffer, obviously due to their close friendship off screen. Now, I have taken Shawn Michaels to task consistently in my reviews, mostly due to his behavior (which as Justin and I explain, gets worse in 1996). I will never question his ability in the ring. He is one of wrestling’s greatest risk takers, as two ladder matches indicate. This is not a perfect match, storyline wise, due to the fact that they’re both faces, which kind of cools the crowd a little. At X, Michaels was the clear heel, and Ramon the clear face. Here, you choose, and it kills some of the psychology. Although Ramon does act like the heel here, dictating the pace of the match by pounding on Michaels’ knee. We mentioned earlier that HBK does get a case of the temper tantrums as time progresses. You see a hint of it here at the end of the match. As Razor is laying prone outside due to a reverse of the Razor’s Edge, Shawn climbs the ladder, but the ladder isn’t placed right and Shawn has to reach behind him to grab it. He misses and falls to the canvas. Michaels slams the canvas, frustratingly slams the ladder in the right place, climbs it and grabs the title. These little tantrums happen many more times the following year, but this was just a preview. In any case, Michaels gets his back, and retains the title. Fantastic match, but not perfect. Grade: 4.5
Justin: An excellent and super stiff match, as these two beat the shit out of each other. This match immediately saves this show and takes it from “solid, but not special” to “That is the show with that awesome ladder match.” The match psychology is great, as they work in spots that either worked or didn’t work at WM X, as moves that Razor hit at X, Shawn avoids here and vice versa. Sure it was kind of weird having a face/face matchup in this type of contest, but the way they work it more than makes up for it. It is amazing to think they could put on a show that at least matches up to Wrestlemania X but they went out there and did it. This is definitely the PPV match of the year in WWF thus far and makes Summerslam one of the top cards of the year. Good work by both men, but Shawn would really start to tarnish his image in the upcoming months, so enjoy it while it lasts. Grade: 4.5
*** Razor Ramon attacks Dean Douglas, who had been critiquing matches throughout the night, and gave Razor a bad grade. We’ll discuss further in our next review on “The Dean’s” character. ***
9) Diesel (Kevin Nash) defeats King Mabel (Nelson Frazier) to retain WWF World Title with a Shoulderblock at 9:14
Fun Fact I: In the week before this show, British Bulldog turned on Diesel during a tag team match with MOM. In the following days, rumors were swirling that Luger would also be turning heel to join his partner in assaulting Diesel. The question here is whether or not Luger would attack Diesel. When Luger runs out during the match, Diesel attacks him because he assumes he is out to get him. Luger eventually helps Diesel ward off the heels. Rumor has it that he was set to have a big feud with the Bulldog, But, before we could find out, he decided to jump to WCW instead, and ended up firing the first shot of the Monday Night Wars. Luger had been wrestling without a contract and his buddy Sting had been trying to convict Eric Bischoff to sign him away. Bischoff was hesitant but eventually caved. Luger wrestled on a house show in St. John’s, New Brunswick, Canada on Sunday September 3, where he teamed up with Shawn Michaels to defeated Owen Hart and Yokozuna. That would be last time he ever stepped foot in a WWF ring as, without any notice, he jumped to WCW and appeared on the debut episode of Monday Nitro the next night. Vince hasn’t forgiven him yet so Luger has been nothing more than the butt of jokes on WWF TV since.
Scott: Now, if the PPV ended with the ladder match, great. It would have been a surprisingly good show. Unfortunately, we weren’t finished. We had to get through this mess. Diesel bores us for the 4th straight month, winning a title match that was under 10 minutes. Two good things come from this: First, Mabel is de-pushed immediately, and never comes close to this again. Thank god. Second, we see the last of Lex Luger. He runs in to help Diesel, and Big Daddy Cruel lays him out anyway. One week later, Luger shows up on the first Monday Nitro, and that’s that. I’ll just say that he could have had a much more lucrative career in the WWF if he 1) stayed a heel, and 2) kept his mouth shut. He had a pretty solid 1993 as “The Narcissist” and even the beginning of the Lex Express run. He gave Yokozuna a good match at Summerslam 1993, and was even with Bret Hart in popularity at the end of the year. After choking at Wrestlemania X, however, his star dulled and that was that. Anyway, Diesel poorly dispatches another unworthy stiff, and the reign of Terror by Big Daddy Cruel continues. Grade: 1
Justin: A stupid main event that ruined a decent show. Absolutely nobody wanted to see Mabel here at all. I can list at least 5 other wrestlers who would have made perfect sense and would have been more acceptable in this spot: Shawn Michaels, Owen Hart, Yokozuna, British Bulldog or Bam Bam Bigelow. Four of those guys weren’t even on the card and any of the 5 could have had a better storyline crafted and produced a better match than the debacle we get here. Sad thing is, if this were a mid card or Raw match, it isn’t even that bad. The fact that is was for the World title and was the Main Event of Summerslam made it downright nauseating. Mabel thankfully is de-pushed quickly and would never get this high up the card again in any kind of serious role. The groans that started when Mabel squashed Diesel at IYH 2 have become sighs of relief that this feud and push have finally ended. What started off so promising has quickly fallen apart and Diesel’s reign continues to slowly limp to a finish. Grade: 1
Scott: The shows are getting progressively better since the mess that was King of the Ring. This had 1 4.5-star match, a couple of solid 3s, and unique storylines (Horowitz). Unfortunately, the main event again tears this grade way down. Fortunately, we only have 2 more shows with Big Daddy Cruel as champ, then things start looking up. The myriad of debuts at this show also adds something, as we see Vince slowly fleshing the card out and injecting some new blood. This show is good, better then most this year, but there are still some quality-deficient moments ahead before we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Final Grade: C
Justin: A pretty solid PPV (for the time) that is really tarnished by a dumb Main Event. Vince was starting to flesh out his mid card, and his patience was wearing thin with Diesel. He would finally come to his senses and make a necessary switch by the end of the year, but the damage has already been done. Like I said, at least the matches had some good stories to make them interesting at the least. I still don’t get Vince’s rotating stars idea, but I guess he really was trying to push some new stars for once, so you really can’t blame him. Still, to leave Bulldog (after a fresh heel turn) and Owen & Yoko off is weird. The darkest days are over, but we still have a few road bumps ahead before the rebuilding truly starts. Michaels and Ramon shine here as they have for the past year, but for someone who looked to be on the verge of such big things one year ago, Diesel’s luster has worn out significantly. Final Grade: C
MVP: Shawn Michaels & Razor Ramon
Runner Up: Bret Hart & Undertaker
Non-MVP: Diesel & Mabel
Runner Up: Lex Luger