September 28, 2009
Matt Peddycord
The Powerdriver Review

WWF SummerSlam
August 18, 1996
Cleveland, OH
Gund Arena

The current WWF champs were as follows:
World Champion: Shawn Michaels (3/31/1996)
Intercontinental Champion: vacant since 8/12/1996
World Tag Team Champions: The Smokin’ Gunns (5/26/1996)

Your hosts are Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and Mr. Perfect.

Owen Hart vs. Savio Vega
Since Owen and Davey Boy aren’t involved in title matches, Cornette leaves them both alone to stay with Vader and get him ready. Owen was supposed to face Ahmed for the IC title here instead, but Ahmed’s kidney injury ended all that. Speaking of injuries, Owen’s still wearing the cast on his arm. Why is he still wearing it after all these months? Perfect thinks it’s because he’s still competing and hasn’t taken any time off to let the initial injury heal. Hey, that makes sense! Just as I say that, Owen tries to pearl harbor Savio by nailing him from behind with the cast, but ref Tim White stands in his way. I don’t think it’s any surprise that Savio goes after the arm to start – slamming the cast onto the turnbuckles and such. Savio tries to keep Owen stuck in an armbar, but Owen kicks off an O’Connor roll and sends Vega shoulder-first into the ringpost. Now it’s Owen with an armbar. During this segment, Clarence Mason comes down to ringside to get a better look at the match. Since we’ve last seen him, he’s become a wrestling manager and took on Crush as his first client. He’s got his eyes set on Owen here. Meanwhile, Owen whiffs on a dropkick, but then both men whiff on Spinning Heel Kicks. Crossbody from Savio gets two, but then Owen nails Vega with an enziguri for two. Ric Flair corner pin gets 1-2-NO! As Owen argues with the ref, Vega schoolboys him for 1-2-NO! Enough of that, Owen connects with the Spinning Heel Kick. Cover, 1-2-NO! Savio catches Owen with a spinning back kick out of the corner. HERE COMES SAVIO! Owen cuts off his comeback with a reverse neckbreaker. Missile Dropkick connects for 1-2-NO! Savio crotches Owen up top and brings him down with a Back Superplex. Oh, but Savio’s head fell on Owen’s cast! Owen’s playing ‘possum and once Savio comes to, he takes off the cast and CLEANS SAVIO’S CLOCK! The ref completely missed everything. Even though Savio is already out of it, Owen applies the SHARPSHOOTER for fun and gets the win via knockout. (13:25) Kind of dull for an opener as a whole, but it picked up a little in the end. Clarence Mason celebrates with Owen in the ring. **

After the celebration, Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw and Zebekiah come down and yell something at Vince. On Savio’s way to the dressing room, Bradshaw runs him down. Ever the professional, JR blames the attack on a tag team loss on Superstars where Savio Vega & Freddy Joe Floyd (Tracy Smothers) defeated Bradshaw & Uncle Zeb.

Todd Pettingell is hanging out in the boiler room. It is totally freaky, says Todd. He stumbles upon Mankind who is just chilling (HA!) on the floor. “There’s no place like home!” Mick Foley is SO into this character right now.

WWF World Tag Team Champions The Smokin’ Gunns (w/Sunny) vs. The Godwinns (w/Hillbilly Jim) vs. The Body Donnas vs. The New Rockers
Only in the ‘96 WWF could you put your entire tag team division into one match. This is elimination rules, so when your team loses, you go to the dressing room. The New Rockers are Leif Cassidy (goatee-less Al Snow) and Marty Jannetty. Skip has a neck injury, but he shows up anyway wearing the collar. He’ll just be standing on the ring apron the whole time. Henry and Billy start us off. Proves to be quite an easy contest for Henry, as he levels Billy with a big hiptoss and a wheelbarrow suplex. Now we get Zip and Phineas. During a criss-cross, they decide to tag in both the Smokin’ Gunns, which MAKES NO SENSE. After the tag, Zip and Phineas do the Fargo strut across the ring and embrace. WHAT. The Gunns hotshot over to the Godwinns, but they drop to the floor. Finally, Zip tags in and faces Billy. Even if you had both teammates in the ring, if Billy was to quickly small package Bart for a three-count, the Gunns would STILL WIN. But even so, that STILL MAKES NO SENSE. Anyways, Jannetty trips up Zip for the three-count to send the Body Donnas to the locker room at 4:01. In the ring, Cassidy knees Henry off a whip and gets tagged into the match. Henry plays face in peril between the Gunns and the New Rockers for a while. That is until Cassidy accidentally clotheslines Billy from the apron. The Godwinns take advantage of the miscue as Henry hits the SLOP DROP on Jannetty for 1-2-3 at 7:19. Now it’s just a 2-on-2 tag match. Henry turns Bart inside out with a clothesline out of the corner. Bart still manages to cut off the tag to Phineas and tags in Billy. He tries a Stinger Splash, but Henry catches him in mid air for a powerslam. HOT TAG TO PHINEAS! He hits the SLOP DROP on Billy, but the ref is busy trying to keep Hillbilly Jim from pouring the slop bucket on Sunny. Meanwhile, Bart lowers the boom on Phineas while he’s got the pin on Billy. He drapes Billy’s arm over Phineas as the ref turns around and counts the 1-2-3. (12:18) Champs retain. Another dull contest as it’s pretty much the same stuff you’ve been seeing for the last four months from these four teams. After the match, Sunny has a HUGE photo of herself dropped from the rafters for everybody to see. *½

Sycho Sid vs. Davey Boy Smith
Another huge ovation for Sid. They get into a shoulderblock battle to start, but Sid wins that with a clothesline. Big slam takes Davey Boy to the floor. Back in, Sid grabs a headlock. They go to the mat where Davey Boy escapes with a headscissors, but then Sid does his kip-up into a powerslam spot. Can’t do it as good as he used to. Here comes Clarence Mason to cheer on Davey Boy. Meanwhile, DBS comes back with an hourglass suplex. Sid elbows out of a chinlock, but takes a clothesline to the floor. Looks like DBS will bring him back in with a suplex, but instead he drops Sid onto the top rope. RUNNING POWERSLAM connects, but Jim Cornette is out to see what the crap Clarence Mason thinks he’s doing trying to steal Corny’s wrestlers. When Davey Boy sees there’s nothing he can do, he goes back over to give Sid another RUNNING POWERSLAM. Sid slips out and hits the Chokeslam. POWERBOMB! Cover, 1-2-3. (6:25) Thanks a lot, Clarence. *

Marc Mero (w/Sable) vs. Goldust (w/Marlena)
We all know Goldust likes men, but apparently he likes maneaters too as he’s now going after Sable. Last weekend on Superstars, Mankind ran out during Marc Mero’s match with Steve Austin and started stalking Sable and calling her “mommy”. It appears the relationship between Goldust and Mankind is not over. At least on paper, they might have made an interesting tag team. Goldust freaks Mero out with his usual “theatrics”, so Mero threatens him with his Left Hook punch. After that’s over, Mero works the arm. Goldust elbows out of a hammerlock and catches Mero ducking low off a whip. Mero charges Goldust up against the ropes, but he takes a backdrop to the floor. When Mero makes it back to the apron, Goldust bumps him off the apron onto the guardrail. Back in, Goldust hits a clothesline for two. Here comes Mankind out of the boiler room to freak out Sable. Meanwhile, Goldust has a chinlock on Mero. Finally some refs come down and send Mankind to the back. Mero retaliates by springing out of the corner off a whip with a back bump to Goldust. Mero makes his comeback – culminating with the Knee Lift. They tumble out to the floor where Mero hits him with the somersault plancha. Back in, Mero delivers the Slingshot Legdrop for 1-2-NO! From here, Mero heads up top and debuts the WILD THING (Shooting Star Press) on Goldust! Too bad Marlena has the ref distracted or it would have been over. Late count gets two. Goldust reverses a corner whip on Mero and delivers the CURTAIN CALL for the 1-2-3. (11:02) After the match, Goldust tries to seduce Sable as only he can while Marlena just stands back and lets it happen. She don’t care. When Goldust goes to kiss her, Mero jumps up and drills him with a right hook. Just to teach Goldust a lesson, Mero drops Goldust crotch first on the top rope and dropkicks to the floor. Oh well, you’ll get her one day, Goldust! **¼

Recap of the Ahmed Johnson injury and the stripping of the IC title. Love the red bathrobe, Ahmed! Who will get the title shot on Championship Raw Friday now that Ahmed is gone? The final four men in the ring will square off (Austin, Goldust, Savio, Sid) and the winner gets Ahmed’s WWF title shot.

Here comes Faarooq Asad with his manager Sunny. Yeah, this is why Faarooq needs to wear long tights and not briefs. Since WWF President Gorilla Monsoon didn’t want the criminal (Faarooq) to benefit from the crime (injuring the IC champ Ahmed Johnson), he made the title vacant. I don’t know why Faarooq thinks that taking out a champion makes you a champion. Faarooq is still pissed about the decision, but if Ahmed is the best the WWF has to offer, then he sees a lot of Sunny days ahead. Sunny tells Gorilla to bring on the tournament, because regardless Faarooq Asad will be the next WWF Intercontinental champion. What Sunny wants, Sunny gets and she wants the gold. Well if you win and then lose it, she’ll just dump you for the other guy.

Jake Roberts vs. Jerry Lawler
Lawler started making fun of Roberts for being a supposed recovering alcoholic. When he’s on commentary, Lawler is always cracking cheap jokes and tempting Jake with Jim Bean and Jack Daniels. That’s what was happening on camera, but in real life Jake was still being the same old Jake even though he was going around to churches for special speaking engagements and telling congregations all around America his life story and how he had changed. Yes, Jake is a very sad story. Olympian Mark Henry joins us for commentary. Lawler brings a snake sack with him to the ring. Off comes the ring jacket to reveal a Baltimore Ravens jersey. NFL fans will get the joke, but I’ll explain. The Cleveland Browns were relocated to Baltimore in 1996 thanks to owner Art Modell, who became the most hated man in Cleveland there for a while. Anyways, Lawler continues to make jokes about Jake and his drinking habits. Jake is ready to pull his snake out of the bag, but Lawler says he’ll show you what goodies he has in his bag if Jake will keep his bag closed. Fair enough. Lawler reaches down into his sack and pulls out a comedic-sized bottle of wine. Jake finds no humor in it and wraps Lawler up in the yellow python. Down on the floor, Jake beats Lawler up by sending him into the ringpost and the steps. Lawler throws a drink in Jake’s face to take over. As Jake gets tied up in the ropes, Lawler threatens him with a bottle of Jim Bean, but Jake kicks him back. DDT? No, Lawler backdrops out. Jake comes back with the short-arm clothesline and calls for the DDT, but Lawler grabs hold of the ref. As Roberts goes over to talk to the ref, Lawler grabs his bottle of Jim Bean and jabs him in the throat with it. WHAT. Cover, 1-2-3. (4:10) Who wants to see two forty year old men working a lame Memphis-style match? Lawler pours some Jim Bean into Jake’s mouth until Mark Henry hops up and scares Lawler off. ½*

Bob Backlund is seen campaigning for President in the audience! The man is a machine.

The Undertaker vs. Mankind – Boiler Room Brawl
Yes, the infamous boiler room brawl. You either like it or you don’t. I happen to like it. The only way to win is to escape the boiler room and head to the ring where Paul Bearer is waiting with the urn. The first man to retrieve the urn will be the winner. I love the little sign on the boiler room door. It says: Boiler Room – DANGER! Now that may be standard procedure, but it’s very fitting right now. UT has to find Mankind in this dark boiler room. Apparently he gets distracted by a power supply and Mankind attacks from behind with tubing. Pretty much a back and forth brawl for a while as they beat each other with boiler room supplies. This boiler room fight was done a day earlier because if they did it live like Bill O’Reilly would prefer, there might actually be some flubs in this brawl. When they have to do edits, the screen goes fuzzy like they’re having some “transmission problems” – like backstage is so far away. In one spot, Mankind turns on one of the exhausts and steam is released into Taker’s face. Reminds me of the old Smackdown games. Mankind low blows Taker with a pipe and then running knees his head up against industrial garage door. With Taker pretty much KO’ed, Mankind elbows drops him off a ladder. Looks like they botched another ladder spot and had to redo it. Mankind climbs up a wall ladder, so Taker sits up and tips the ladder backwards as Mankind falls onto what appears to be a cardboard landing. As they fight over to the door, Taker tries to stop Mankind by shooting him with the fire extinguisher, but Mankind still manages to make it out the door first. Instead of just running to the ring to win the match, Mankind places a bunch of trashcans in front of the door to try and stop Taker from coming. Well that didn’t work at all. Taker powers through the door as they brawl towards the ring. Right before they make it to the tunnel, Mankind picks up a coffee pot and throws it at the Undertaker! OH GEEZ. Taker NO-SELLS the coffee (probably decaf) and runs Mankind down outside the tunnel. From there, he finds a 2×4 and cracks it over Mankind’s head! Taker punches Mankind towards the ring, but Mankind pulls him off the apron and sends him into the steps. That slows UT down enough for Mankind to peel back the ringside mats and give him a Pull-Up Piledriver on the concrete! Taker NO-SELLS that as well and beats Mankind on the apron. Looks like it’s time for the Nestea Plunge (back-first bump onto concrete). YES IT IS. Nastyyyyy. Taker goes into the ring and drops to one knee as he asks for the urn, but Paul Bearer refuses and turns away. Mankind jumps back inside and applies the MANDIBLE CLAW! Once Taker seems down and out, Mankind goes over and drops to one knee in front of Paul Bearer. Taker SITS UP, so Mankind reapplies the hold. Okay, now he’s out. Mankind holds Taker while Bearer slams down the urn and slaps away on the Undertaker. Taker still decides he wants the urn and starts to crawl towards Bearer. Once he reaches Bearer, he gets the urn slammed on the top of his head to knock him out. And the urn goes to Mankind. (26:20) And the six year relationship between the Undertaker and Paul Bearer has ended. UT’s theme music is cut off as the Druids theme music hits as they come out to carry out the Undertaker. These two just wrote the book on the backstage brawls and WWF-style hardcore matches to come. Not a MOTYC or anything, but definitely an important match in the history of the WWF. ***¼

WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels (w/Jose Lothario) vs. Vader (w/Jim Cornette)
Can Shawn beat the MONSTER? Vader OWNS Shawn to start, but then HBK catches a big boot and trips Vader up onto his backside. Shawn unloads on Vader, but once Vader is back on his feet, there’s not too much he can do to the big guy. Vader goes to dump Shawn, but he ducks down and the momentum sends Vader to the floor. With Vader on the outside, Shawn baseball slides him back and levels him with a plancha, which becomes part of the WWE highlight reel for years to come. Back in, HBK continues with the offense by nailing Vader with a hurracanrana. Shawn gets up on Vader’s shoulders and flips him out to the floor, then skins-the-cat back inside. Excellent. Shawn tries a slingshot rana, but Vader blocks and POWERBOMBS Shawn on the floor. Vader carries Shawn over his shoulder into the ring and then tosses him back into the ring. Uh oh, Vader has Shawn in the corner. From there, Vader whips Shawn across for the Ray Stevens corner bump to the floor. Back in, Shawn refuses a back suplex, but gets drilled with a clothesline. Shawn flips out of a suplex and nearly gets dumped out, but he skins-the-cat and hooks Vader’s head with his legs. Instead of flipping Vader out to the floor, Shawn gets pulled back inside and dumped down on his face! Cover, 1-2-NO! Shawn punches out of a standing crossface and comes off the ropes to trip up Vader into a sunset flip, but Vader steps on Shawn’s chest and goes to sit down on him, but Shawn brings up the knees. Looks like Shawn thought Vader was supposed to counter him coming off the top rope with a boot, but there’s no way Vader could lift his foot up that way. He was too far away to block it. Anyways, Shawn stomps him on the head instead and gives him the bad mouth for “screwing up”. Crossbody from Shawn flips both men out to the floor. On the outside, Vader reverses a whip on Shawn and sends him into the apron. He presses Shawn and drops him throat-first on the guardrail and then he returns to the ring to win via countout at 13:50. Cornette isn’t pleased with winning the match like this because he wants the title. Get back in the ring Shawn, if you have any guts. Match continues and Vader continues to decimate Shawn. POWERBOMB? No! Shawn punches out, hits the Flying Forearm, and nails the Flying Elbow Drop. He sets up for SWEET CHIN MUSIC, but Jim Cornette grabs his leg. Jimmy gets pulled up onto the apron and punched down, but the tennis racket falls into the ring. Shawn boots Vader away, picks up the racket, and starts wailing away on Vader for the DQ at 17:49. Once again, Cornette doesn’t want to win like that. He wants the title! Get back in the ring and face Vader if you have any guts, Shawn! Match is restarted a second time. Shawn avoids a butt splash when he tries a sunset flip and he repeats the same finishing sequence over again. Flying Forearm, Flying Elbow Drop, SWEET CHIN MUSIC for 1-2-NO! Crowd can’t believe it. Ref gets bumped out to the floor as Vader hits the POWERBOMB. Another ref runs out and counts the late 1-2-NO! Vader sets Shawn up for the VADERBOMB, but no he’s going for the VADERSAULT. Shawn moves out of the way and hits Vader with his Moonsault Press for the 1-2-3. (22:19) Not too much Cornette can say after the three-count. It’s a good main event, but I think it’s a tad overrated considering Vader’s injuries and Shawn playing politics by not wanting to drop the belt to Vader. ***¾

Final Thoughts: This card is well-known for the talent having too many injuries to make it anything above average, which made the show quite vulnerable in that it had a lot of empty time to fill. The problem with that is – the empty time was filled with terrible. The worst had to be the Lawler-Roberts stuff that went on WAY too long. Right now was just not a good time for the WWF to be having a big PPV like this, so it left only the two main events as anything worth watching. I hate to give it a complete thumbs down because of the last two matches, so I’ll go with a slight thumbs in the middle for SummerSlam 1996. Got two words for you: fast forward.

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