Retro Reviews: WWE SummerSlam 1994

Undertaker vs Undertaker
Photo: WWE

Welcome to the New Generation of what was then known as the WWF. They make sure to hammer that point home during the entire show that is SummerSlam 1994.

Hulk Hogan is officially in WCW at this point and for the first time in a very long time, they have the momentum in their rivalry with the WWF. Vince McMahon’s answer to all of this is to start building up a “new generation”. As we all know, it didn’t work out too well.

We are live from Chicago, Illinois in the brand new United Center. Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler are on commentary.

Jerry Lawler lets us know that Shawn Michaels and Diesel won the WWF Tag Team Championship last night over the Headshrinkers at a house show. That’s right, Diesel 2 Belts in the house. I’m actually surprised Kevin Nash hasn’t brought that up on Twitter to Bayley and Sasha Banks yet.

I.R.S and Bam Bam Bigelow w/Ted DiBiase vs The Headshrinkers w/Afa and Capt. Lou Albano

Vince McMahon starts us off with the first lie of the night, calling I.R.S. and Bam Bam Bigelow an awesome combination. First off, anything involving Mike Rotunda can never be awesome. Secondly, anything involving the Million Dollar Corporation is awful. They are one of the worst stables ever in my opinion.

Bam Bam is actually out here bumping his butt off for the Headshrinkers. A true professional in every way. This is a lot different than a normal tag team match as the faces have all the offense in the first portion of this match. That is until Bam Bam pulls the rope down on Fatu and he goes tumbling to the outside.

But the heels offense only lasts a few minutes as Samu gets the hot tag. All hell breaks loose. Samu hits a splash but Bam Bam breaks it up. Bam Bam hits Capt. Lou Albano but Afa comes in and headbutts him. The bell rings and both teams eventually brawl up the aisle way. Bam Bam and Irwin win via DQ, I guess because Afa interfered.

WWF Women’s Championship: Alundra Blayze (c) vs Bull Nakano w/Luna Vachon

Bull Nakano gets the music that they gave every performer of Asian orientation during the 1990s. The women are handed flowers, but Luna runs across the ring and throws them at Alundra. Well that doesn’t seem very nice.

Nakano hits Blayze with a hard lariat right out of the gate. She then tosses Alunda around by the hair which to Alundra’s credit, she sells pretty well and is thrown pretty far.

This match is all Bull Nakano. She applies a handful of submission holds that impress the crowd as they react to each one. Of course they probably don’t even know the true greatness of Bull Nakano in 1994. She continues to stop all of Alundra’s offense at every turn. An impressive power bomb only gets two.

But Bull Nakano makes the mistake of going to the top for a guillotine leg drop. She misses. Alundra knocks Luna off the apron then German suplexes Nakano into a pin for the win. That match was 98% Bull Nakano.

Diesel and Shawn Michaels are interviewed. Boy, did Nash come a long way in his promos. He was not good in this one.

WWF Intercontinental Championship: Diesel (c) w/Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon w/Walter Payton

For those of you that don’t know, Walter Payton is a former Chicago Bears running back. You could make an argument that he is the greatest running back in NFL history. The champ comes out first. Where is Jesse Ventura to bring up the disrespect this shows the champion?

It is always nice when you can see that the athlete/celebrity involved looks like he cares about being a part of this and isn’t just in it for the pay day. Payton looks genuinely happy to be there.

Even in Diesel’s all black ring gear you can tell that he is a man who skipped leg day. No wonder he tore his quad years later. HBK takes off one of the top turnbuckle pads as the ref is distracted by Diesel. HBK then tries to go towards Razor on the floor but Payton backs him away. Earl Hebner keeps Payton away, but that allows HBK to clothesline Razor. Seeds are already being planted for Survivor Series 1997.

I know Vince strapped the rocket to Diesel a few months later, but this match should have been a major red flag. It is not good. Diesel is keeping it slow by wearing down the back of Razor.

Diesel goes for a powerslam but Razor escapes and pushes Diesel into the exposed turnbuckle. Razor gets his comeback going and crotches Diesel on the post and hits a bulldog off the top for two. Seeing people freak out over a near fall there is amazing. That wouldn’t get a whimper from a crowd in 2020.

Razor gets knocked off the top by Diesel. Diesel goes for the Jack Knife but Razor escapes. HBK grabs the IC title but Walter Payton pulls it away. The ref goes to Payton, allowing Michaels to go to the top but miss an ax handle on Razor and accidentally hit Diesel. Payton pulls HBK out of the ring as Razor goes to Diesel and pins him to win and regain the IC title.

HBK takes off and Diesel chases after him, pissed about what happened. So the seeds are planted for the Diesel face turn. Razor gets a huge reaction for the win. I’m surprised they never went with Razor for a WWF title run. Hell, he could have won the title from Backlund in November.

We are backstage with Lex Luger and Tatanka. Did Luger sell out to the Million Dollar Man? Well, 54% believe so according to a poll. Tatanka really believes so and shows all the evidence. I mean, if you drank every time Tatanka said “sold out” you would have downed a whole bottle of liquor at this point.

Tatanka vs Lex Luger

Vince says it is a “mixed’ reaction for Lex Luger. Well, that is because the crowd was kind of turning on Luger by this point. This match is actually one between two guys passed their expiration point. Tatanka’s was in late 1993. Luger’s was earlier in 1994. Once he didn’t win the title, he was done.

There are three great mullets in this match with Luger, Tatanka and Mike Chioda. Jerry Lawler tries to associate everything Luger does with Ted DiBiase. After a slow feeling out process, since they are still technically both faces, Luger and Tatanka finally pick up the energy a little bit. The mics must be muted because we can’t hear Luger yelling “OHHH” during all of his selling.

Through four matches it is quite obvious that referees counted much faster in 1994 than they do nowadays. Luger starts landing clothesline after clothesline. Out comes the Million Dollar Man. He shows Luger a handful of money. Luger gets distracted and Tatanka rolls him up for the win. Luger is pissed about that but it isn’t Tatanka’s fault Luger is stupid, as Lawler points out.

Luger gets in DiBiase’s face and knocks the bag of money out of his hands. Suddenly, Tatanka attacks Luger from behind! Could it be, did Tatanka sell out? Tatanka hugs DiBiase and just adds to more of the awfulness that is the Million Dollar Corporation. Vince says the crowd is stunned, which is code for they aren’t reacting because they don’t care.

Jeff Jarrett vs Mabel w/Oscar

Well, this match should be something. It is country versus rap. Country music is awful and most rap is crap if you ask me. Give me Metallica, Guns n Roses or Motley Crue any day of the week.

There are a good amount of empty seats in the background so it is clear the crowd is using this as their bathroom break match. I probably would too if I were in attendance for this show. Just think, Mabel MAIN EVENTS this show next year. Let that sink in.

Jarrett goes to the second rope and hits, something. I don’t know what it was. Vince even goes “Double J to the top and..” nothing.

Jarrett slipped a bit and hit a half-assed punch to the head. Jarrett keeps going for a sleeper but Mable keeps backing him into the corner. Mabel hits a rolling kick for two as we get a shot of Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz in the aisle with a sign showing he’s on strike. (Major League Basbeall went on strike a few weeks earlier in 94).

Anyways, Mabel misses a splash and Jarrett goes for an awful rollup and gets the win with it. That was not good. But again, Vince saw something in Mabel and decided to push him a year later.

Leslie Neilsen and George Kennedy, stars of the Naked Gun film franchise, are shown in the aisle looking for the Undertaker. The first Naked Gun is still the best of the series FYI.

We get a long video package recapping the Bret/Owen feud, likely to give time for the cage to be set up. It includes one of my favourite wrestling shots ever: Owen looking at a celebrating Bret Hart in the ring after winning the WWF title at Wrestlemania 10. Despite beating Bret earlier in the night, Bret still gets all the accolades and recognition at the end of the night.

Vince and Lawler interview the Hart family. Stu looks completely out of it. Jim Neidhart, who is sitting behind the family, says he is there to cheer Owen. Jim had just joined up with Owen at King of the Ring. Bruce Hart cuts a grade school level promo on Jim. Boy is Bruce just awful.

Steel Cage Match for the WWF Championship: Bret Hart (c) vs Owen Hart

As Jerry Lawler points out, no one from the Hart Family shakes Owen’s hand on the way to the ring. The nerve of them! Bruce grabs Bret on the way to the ring in order to give him a bro hug. Bruce has to get his 15 minutes of fame somehow.

Man do I miss the old school blue steel cage. It would be one of the first things I would bring back if I was in charge of the company. It looks great, it is probably easier to climb, and easier to watch for the live audience.

So this match has a lot of attempted escapes in it. A LOT. It is quite literally half the match. I know the only way to win is escape but this is too much. We get a couple of moves, then an escape attempt. Rinse and repeat the entire match.

Dave Meltzer gave the match five stars. For the time frame? Yeah I see it. But watching it back it doesn’t hold up. Their Wrestlemania match was much better.

Owen pulls Bret down off the cage and he lands hard on the ropes. They cut to a shot of the British Bulldog, who had just came back to the company, with the Hart Family cheering Bret. Lawler asks what is wrong with Bulldog’s brain. Well Jerry, probably quite a lot.

Owen tries going over the cage but Bret holds him by his hair. Ouch. I will say despite me criticizing all the escape attempts, the crowd is in to pretty much all of them. It is funny listening to Lawler ask if Owen’s hands being on the ground is good enough for him to win.

Bret gets tossed into the corner hard and Lawler says that knocked out Stu’s pacemaker. This time it is Owen who pulls Bret back into the ring by his hair. Vince calls this the most dangerous match in the WWF. Boy have times changed. In 2020 that title belongs to anyone having a match with Nia Jax.

I wish I could add more commentary to the match for you guys but it is literally just escape attempt after escape attempt. You can’t really add to much explanation about that. Owen applies the Sharpshooter and screams that he is going to break Bret’s legs. But Bret reverses it and applies it to Owen. Both of them end up on the outside of the cage. Bret slams Owen into it and Owen gets caught in the openings, allowing Bret to get to the ground for the win.

Jim Neidhart sneak attacks the British Bulldog, sending him over the rail. Jim and Owen go back into the cage with Bret and padlock it. They beat down Bret as the brothers of the Hart Family try to get into the cage but Owen and Jim fight them off. Eventually Bulldog finds his way into the cage. The rest follow as Owen and Jim escape.

As the steel cage is getting taken down, we now get a long promo detailing the Undertaker vs Undertaker feud. Even as a six year old kid, I knew that wasn’t the real Undertaker. Brian Lee tried but he just didn’t sell it well enough.

The Undertaker vs The Undertaker

I actually used to play this match when I was a kid in my old video games. You used to be able to have up to ten Undertakers fight in the old Royal Rumble games and got cool color combos like red and green which you would never see on the Taker.

After Ted DiBiase brings his Undertaker to the ring, Paul Bearer comes down with druids wheeling the casket down. They open the casket and Paul Bearer brings out a super sized urn. He takes off the lid in the ring and a light comes out of it. Some lightning like effects and out comes the real Undertaker. Both Undertakers mimmick each other taking off their hats and robes in the ring.

The pre match show has pretty much killed the crowd. They are silent for the early part of this match. Good Undertaker blocks Bad Undertaker’s Old School attempt and tosses him off the ropes. Good Taker comes back and hits Old School. It looks like Good Taker was suppose to send Bad Taker over the top but it is botched.

Vince gives the classic “this crowd is in awe” excuse to explain why the crowd is so silent for this match. Vince brings it up a minute later which probably means Vince is panicking at the lack of reaction this match is getting.

Bad Taker hits a chokeslam then does a really awkward Taker-like raising of the hands and hits a Tombstone. But Good Taker sits up. Good Taker reverses another attempt and hits a Tombstone of his own. He hits a second and third for good measure to pick up the victory as the crowd barely reacts to the entire thing.

We cut to Leslie Nielsen and George Kennedy in the back finding a closed case. The case is closed. Get it?

OVERALL: Not a great show. Even the one match that gets praise from this show (Bret vs Owen) does not hold up whatsoever on the re-watch. It is a bad start for the New Generation of the WWF. And it is about to get worse as the rocket is soon to be strapped to Diesel and his year-long World title reign is getting ready to commence.