July 23, 2005
WWF IC Championship
Bret Hart © vs. Davey Boy Smith
August 29, 1992 (aired 8/31/92)
In 1992, I was a new fan to the spectacle that is pro wrestling. I was still learning the names of several of the superstars when the buildup for Summer Slam began. While I still didn't know a dragon suplex from a a slingshot suplex, I did have my favorites.
One was “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, whose combination of power and agility blew me away. Another was Bret “The Hitman” Hart, the reigning Intercontinental Champion. Hart had me hooked when I saw him wrestle the Barbarian on Prime Time Wrestling and, despite being at a size and strength disadvantage, pulled off an easy victory. I could tell right off the bat that these two men were not your average overgrown man-beast wrestlers.
In the weeks leading up to the show, their brother-in-law relationship was played up on TV. Various members of the Hart Family, including Owen and Bruce, chimed in with who they wanted to win.
So with the family divided, two of the most popular and skilled mid-carders on the WWF roster would do battle for the championship in front of a sold out Wembley Stadium as part of Summer Slam. To make it even more intriguing, they were given the opportunity of closing the show – something generally reserved for the world title match.
The Pre-Match Interviews
Sean Mooney: “Davey Boy Smith, you have got to be feeling a tremendous amount of pressure going into this contest for the Intercontinental Championship. You’ll be stepping into the ring with your brother-in-law. Obviously this match has torn both sides of the family apart. First of all, your thoughts on the family pressures you are facing now.”
Davey Boy Smith: “Well I’m facing a lot of pressures in the family, Sean. But I didn’t make this match; Jack Tunney made this match. But the British Bulldog has fought hard for two long years to be the #1 contender for the Intercontinental belt. Yes, Bret, you are the Intercontinental Champion. Yes, Bret, you are my brother-in-law. But when I step into the ring with you, Bret, I never met you. I don’t even know you. But at the end of the match, I just hope that the families reunite.”
Mooney: “British Bulldog, that brings me to my second point, one that may even bring even more pressure on you is the fact that you will be stepping out into that stadium in front of 80,000 of your fellow countrymen.”
Smith: “Sean, that isn’t a pressure. That’s a dream for the British Bulldog. And my second dream is, at the end of the match, the British Bulldog will be the next World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Champion.”
Gene Okerlund: “Well I’ve got to agree with my broadcast colleague Sean Mooney. Indeed there is a great deal of pressure for this Intercontinental title bout. However, the pressure on the champion – you Bret “the Hitman” Hart – much different than the pressure on the challenger the British Bulldog. For him to win this coveted title he must either make you submit or get the pinfall 1-2-3 in the center of the ring. And then of course there’s the question of the family pressure.”
Bret Hart: “Well let me tell you something, Gene. As far as family pressure goes, I’ve proven that I work real well under pressure. But you know what really bugs me, that really irks me, is the British Bulldog actually has the gall to come out here and say that when he steps into the ring with me that he’s never met me, that he doesn’t know me. Well let me tell you something British Bulldog. Take a good look at my face and look me in the eye and tell me you don’t know me. Do you remember that far back, British Bulldog, that I was the one that introduced you to my sister Diana in the first place. And as far as your career in the World Wrestling Federation, I’m the one that helped you the most. You wouldn’t be where you are in the World Wrestling Federation if it wasn’t for me. Talk about gratitude... You know, the British Bulldog forgets – he’s the one that wanted to challenge me, he’s the one responsible for all the family tension, he’s the one that wanted a shot at the gold. Well you know something, the British Bulldog – he wanted the big fight? He’s got the big fight. And as far as his big dream … you know what I think of his big dream? This big dream of his of wining the World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Title in front of 80,000 of his compatriots? Well, you know … I think this big dream of his is going to turn into a nightmare. And tomorrow morning when he wakes up, he’s going to think he woke up in the dungeon of Windsor Castle.”
Vince McMahon & Bobby Heenan on commentary
The challenger is accompanied by future World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Lennox Lewis, who waves the Union Jack as they approach the ring. Smith receives a deafening ovation from the massive crowd.
Bobby Heenan: “You think he’s got butterflies in his stomach right now?”
Vince McMahon: “Yeah, maybe more than that.”
Heenan: “Maybe bats.”
The Hitman is introduced and, while the cheers and fans are still there, the ovation is miniscule compared to that of Smith’s welcome. In Bret’s defense, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to be cheered in England opposite Davey Boy.
Vince: “’The Hitman’ Bret Hart, I believe is just as popular as ‘The British Bulldog’ Davey Boy Smith.”
Sure, Vince. Maybe in America. But we’re not in the States.
The late Joey Morella is the official for the bout.
The opening moments see Smith easily overpower the champion. Smith with a headlock but Hart sends him off the ropes and gets in a leap frog. On the way back, the challenger shoulderblocks Bret, knocking him with force out through the ropes to the floor.
The champion, now realizing what he has to work against, cautiously reenters the ring. A second lockup sees Bret with a headlock into a takedown, with Smith using a headscissors to escape. Hart again takes him down with a headlock. The challenger gets to his feet, runs Bret to the ropes, Hart uses a flip-over into a waistlock and roll up for the first 2-count of the match. An inside cradle follows for another 2-count and Bret reapplies the headlock. Smith escapes into a hammerlock, then repeatedly drops a knee across the arm. Bret soon escapes with an elbow to the face, then hooks on his own armbar. Davey uses a number of acrobatic flips to reverse the hold.
Bret soon sends the challenger off the ropes. On the way back, the champion attempts a leap frog but Smith catches him and slingshots him into the top turnbuckle – even though Bret has to jump a little in order to make it. Davey reapplies the armbar.
Dueling chants of … and I’m guessing at this because it is somewhat muffled … “Bulldog” and “Hitman” can be heard as Smith avoids a clothesline and takes the champion down with a crucifix for a near fall. The challenger then reapplies the armbar as the crowd voices their pleasure.
A video insert shows Diana Hart Smith watching on from her seat.
The champion sends Smith off the ropes, drops down, and catches him with a hard knee to the midsection on the way back. With 7 minutes in, there are audible boos directed at Hart. The champion locks on a headlock, turning his face inward so we can’t see him whisper the next exchange in Smith’s ear.
The challenger, on cue, gets to his feet and runs the ropes but is met with an elbow to the face on his way back. An elbow drop and atomic drop follows (the latter of which McMahon mistakenly refers to as a ‘reverse piledriver’).
Hart sends Smith off the ropes and the challenger again attempts the crucifix but the champion blocks it and falls backward, resulting in a Samoan Drop. A lazy cover follows and Smith kicks out at 2. Hart reapplies the headlock.
A winded Smith looks to the crowd to cheer him on as he makes it back to his feet. He sends Hart off the ropes and hits a shoulderblock, then runs the opposite ropes. A leap frog follows before he finally takes the champion down with a monkey flip.
With momentum finally back on his side, Smith throws Hart into the corner, then sends him into the opposite corner before rushing in after. The champion connects with a boot to the face and then, to add insult to injury, bulldogs the Bulldog at the 10-minute mark.
Hart quickly climbs to the top but Smith throws him off. The challenger flies off the top with some sort of retarded headbutt but Hart rolls out of the way and Smith hits nothing but mat. Bret slams Smith’s face into the mat for good measure. The champion attempts a bodyslam but Smith flips over and hooks on a waistlock. Hart uses the Bulldog’s momentum against him as both men run the ropes, with Bret swerving out of the way as Smith goes flying out in-between the ropes to the floor.
A cocky Hitman plays up the boos of the fans while the challenger is laid out on the floor. Smith pulls himself up to his feet and walks around the ring, eventually being toppled as Hart uses a plancha to the floor. I’m guessing Davey completely forgot the spot because he doesn’t even look up as Hart comes over the top and, as a result, the champion lands awkwardly across the Bulldog’s back.
Heenan: “He about broke his back.”
Hart keeps the pressure on by ramming Smith back-first into the ring post before rolling him back inside the ring. Bret throws Davey hard into the corner, picks him up, hits a headbutt, and a side Russian leg sweep for a near fall. A series of European uppercuts follow. A beautiful standing dropkick puts Smith down on the mat.
The champion continues his assault with a high back body drop for another near fall. The headlock is reapplied. Just as Smith attempts to break the hold, Hart drops him with a snap suplex and once again locks on the headlock.
Hart attempts another European uppercut which Davey reverses into a backslide for a near fall. Bret fights back with a backbreaker then drops an elbow off the middle turnbuckle to the back of the head. A 2-count follows. The champion grabs two big handfuls of the challenger’s braided hair, picks him up, and drops him hard on the back of the head as the crowd continues to boo Bret’s pseudo heel tactics.
Smith finally reaches his feet and swings a wild punch, with Bret ducking and quickly applying a sleeper on the stunned challenger. Davey grabs the ropes but the Hitman keeps the hold applies until Morella threatens a DQ. Two hard stomps to the face follow and Bret reapplies the sleeper.
With 18:50 removed, Smith keeps himself in the match by fighting the sleeper and twice ramming Hart back-first into the corner. A slugfest follows and Smith catches Bret for a press slam, then accidentally drops him crotch-first across the middle rope, an obvious sign that the challenger is becoming more and more winded as the battle progresses.
Smith shoves Bret into the corner and follows up with three hard clotheslines for a near fall. Davey then hits a gorilla press slam for another 2-count. A delayed suplex and third near fall follow.
Hart soon hits the corner sternum-first and seemingly knocks himself out. At 21:40, Smith pulls a dazed Bret up by the straps of his outfit, then, with a smile on his face, looks to the crowd for approval. The trademark running powerslam follows but Smith fails to hook the leg and Hart kicks out at 2, stunning the fans, the commentary team, and the challenger.
Heenan: “That’s the turning point, when he couldn’t beat him with his own finishing maneuver. He can’t beat Bret Hart. He can’t beat the Hitman.”
The champion rolls out on the apron, with Smith setting him up for a suplex. Hart flips over and lands a German suplex into a bridge for a 2-count.
By this point, both the commentary team and the fans are emotionally exhausted from the number of near falls.
Heenan: “Are you kidding me? There’s only one man I know that could get up from all these moves … that’s Ric Flair.”
Bret attempts a suplex but Davey places him on the top rope and lands a big superplex for a 2-count.
Inside the ring, both men connect with a clothesline. The champion locks his legs around Smith’s and rolls the challenger over for the Sharpshooter. With 24:30 gone, Smith is caught in the champion’s patented submission hold. After 20 seconds, Davey grabs the bottom rope to force the release of the hold.
The champion, momentum still on his side, lands a few punches and sends Smith off the ropes. An Irish whip follows, the Hitman attempts a sunset flip, but the Bulldog hooks the legs and leans forward to gain his own cover. The referee goes down … 1 … 2 … 3.
At 25:13, we have a title change. The stadium explodes in applause as Howard Finkel announces the British Bulldog as the new IC title holder.
An ecstatic Smith looks down at his newly won title, then to the crowd. He extends his hand to Hart, who twice attempts to walk out of the ring but the boos of the crowd prevent him from doing so. After some reluctance, the Hitman shakes Smith’s hand and raises his arm in victory. Diana Hart Smith joins her husband and brother and the three celebrate as the pyro and fireworks go off to send the crowd home happy.
Vince: “We hope you have enjoyed the grandeur, the drama, the spectacle, as 80,355 fans here from Wembley have looked on. So long everybody, from London, England. What a Summer Slam!”
As an 11-year old kid, I thought this was the greatest match ever. As a 23-year old, I still think it holds up. The faults are more obvious to me now but that doesn’t take away the fact that this match is largely responsible for me becoming a hardcore pro wrestling fan.
This is without a doubt Smith’s finest moment as a singles wrestler. As far as Bret, he’s had better matches but this was the first real showcase of his abilities in a long, marquee pay-per-view atmosphere. And it was a success.
For the timeframe, I think this ranks right up there with Savage / Warrior from WrestleMania VII and easily blows away 90% of every other pay-per-view match from the early 90s. The 1992 Match of the Year, as named by Pro Wrestling Illustrated, should be required viewing.