Date: August 29, 1994
Venue: United Center (Chicago, Illinois)
Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry "The King" Lawler
It was a close call for the forth spot on my list of the Top 5 SummerSlam Events, and SummerSlam ’94 just managed to take it. It may not have a lot of big matches on the card, but the few that are there–whether it’s the emotional WWF Championship match, the (future) Outsiders battling it out for the Intercontinental Championship (IC), or one of the biggest returns (for the time)–make this a must-see show.
Match #1: The Million Dollar Corporation (Bam Bam Bigelow and Irwin R. Schyster w/The Million Dollar Man) Vs The Headshrinkers (w/Afa and Lou Albano)
“The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase began buying wrestlers’ contracts in order to build his self-titled stable, The Million Dollar Corporation, in 1994. Although the group didn’t become a huge hit like other WWE groups (such as the Heenan Family), they would managed to make it to the main event of WrestleMania 11, where Bam Bam faced off against Lawrence Taylor. And this tag team match at SummerSlam ’94 seemed, on paper at least, ready to deliver on the action.
Despite all four men being solid tag-team workers, things just didn’t really flow all too well once the bell rang. Maybe it was the lack of crowd energy. It’s pretty obvious that fans didn’t really want to boo Bam Bam, though they had no problem doing it to Irwin. Or maybe it’s that there wasn’t much of a build up to the match. It certainly would have helped had the Tag Team Championship been on the line like they were originally scheduled (the Headshrinkers dropped the titles the night before to Shawn Michaels and Diesel).
In the first of many backstage vignettes, Leslie Nelson–in an in-character performance of his role as Frank Drebin from Police Squad! and The Naked Gun films–continues his attempt to solve the mystery of how two Undertakers could exist.
I miss WWE doing stuff like this. These sorts of skits added so much fun and enjoyment to the show.
Match #2: WWF Women’s Championship: Alundra Blayze (c) Vs Bull Nakano (w/ Luna Vachon)
This is a real Women’s wrestling match, not a Divas match. This is back when woman weren’t required to have huge tits and asses and could actually work a match. I’m not saying that none of the WWE Divas today can work, but the ones that get pushed seem to be always be those with more T&A and less talent.
Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano had quite the feud throughout the early 90’s in the then-WWF, battling back and forth for the Women’s Championship. They even had a couple matches in Japan. Bull Nakano is unlike any woman wrestler I’ve ever seen–she definitely marched to the beat of her own drum. And Alundra was a perfect champion (right up until the WCW Nitro incident). She had the look of a champion and could back up everything she said on the mic in the ring. Anytime these two locked-up, you were guaranteed an instant classic.
Two styles that were so opposite yet worked so well together.
It’s a great technical bout that isn’t hindered by lack of time (like most women’s matches these days). Just sit back and get ready for a damn-fine wrestling match.
Match #3: WWF Intercontinental Championship: Diesel (c) (w/ Shawn Michaels) Vs Razor Ramon (w/ Walter Payton)
Shawn and Razor were no strangers to each other or the Intercontinental Championship. Diesel may have been brought in as Michael’s bodyguard, but he quickly took center stage. Although we got a couple of single matches between Razor and Diesel before, and a couple of tag matches (Michaels pairing with Diesel; the Kid with Razor), SummerSlam 94 was the first PPV where Diesel and Razor faced off one-on-one.
The match itself is all over the place, with a lot of good back-and-forth between the two big men. Michaels causes all kinds of chaos on the outside and Walter Payton is total a wild card. This might not be either one’s best match, but it is a good, solid match that keeps a decent pace.
Also, it is cool to see these two guys fighting over the IC title just two years before they become the hottest team in pro wrestling over at WCW.
Match #4: Tatanka Vs Lex Luger
Lex Luger was set on a path to be the biggest superstar in the WWF, but for certain reasons the Lex Express derailed and never managed to hold the WWF Title. One year earlier, Lex was in the main event of SummerSlam ’93, taking on Yokozuna for the WWF Title. This year he is taking on one of his best friends in an effort to prove his loyalties.
This match may not have been as good as it could of been, but it did have a lot riding on it and has one hell of a surprise ending. One month before SummerSlam, Luger had been seen talking to Ted Dibiase backstage at Monday Night Raw. The Million Dollar Man would then go on to announce that he’d convinced Lex Luger to join the Million Dollar Corporation. Luger was instantly labeled a traitor and a sell-out, and was confronted by Tatanka on multiple occasions. Luger repeatedly denied having joined the corporation, but Tatanka seemed 100% sure.
They even had a call-in vote for fans to see if Luger had “Sold Out”.
I remember watching this storyline play out each week. I couldn’t believe Luger would sell out, but I was such a fan of Tatanka, and he was just so sure, that I really started to question whether or not Luger had sold out.
I didn’t know what to expect in this match, but the emotion was high and the end was indeed a surprise. This was the beginning of a really good feud that was unfortunately cut short for some reason I’m still not sure of, but it was fun while it lasted.
Match #5: Jeff Jarrett Vs Mabel (w/ Oscar)
This match had no real build up going into SummerSlam other than Jarrett was a country music singer and Mabel was a rapper. The WWF actually promoted the match as a “rap versus country” rivalry. Although Jarrett is one hell of a worker and Mable had size and character, this match is such a train wreck that it could be skipped without anyone realizing it was ever supposed to be on the card.
Match #6: Steel Cage Match for the WWF Heavyweight Championship: Bret Hart (c) Vs Owen Hart
Bret versus Owen was not only going to be a guaranteed classic, it was one of the best feuds of the 90s period. It all began at Survivor Series ’93, but the two wouldn’t actually have a match until WrestleMania X, which if you have not seen that match, please be sure to check it out as it is one of the greatest matches of all time.
Bret was on his second run with the WWF Championship and Owen, who had not yet held a championship at this point, was eager to beat his older brother. But this match was about much more than the WWF Championship. It was about this sibling rivalry that had been building for years. It was about finding out who was the best Hart. And we were going to find that out at SummerSlam. I’d never been so emotionally invested in a feud in wrestling until Bret/Owen.
The match, simply put, is great. Both men were at the top of their games, and even though Bret was suffering from strep throat, you would never notice had Todd Pettengill not mentioned it in the pre-match interview. And having the entire Hart family at ring side–Stu and Helen Hart (Bret and Owen’s real-life parents), the British Bulldog, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhardt, and the other Hart brothers–just added that much more to the match.
Bret and Owen make real good use of the classic blue steel cage (which I’ve heard is stiff as nails), with plenty of back-and-forth, up-and-down action. You can feel the electricity from the crowd anytime the two are on the cage.
To steal a line from Good Ol’ JR, this match is one hell of a slobber-knocker!
Fun Fact: Bret has mentioned in interviews that he wanted to have a ladder match with Owen back at WrestleMania X, which is why he and Shawn Michaels had a trial ladder match at a house show. However, the ladder match was instead given to Michaels and Razor Ramon. I would have loved to see Bret and Owen in a ladder match here at SummerSlam, especially after Shawn and Razor’s match.
Match #7: The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) Vs The Undertaker (w/ Ted Dibiase)
The Undertaker was, and always will be, the biggest spectacle the WWE has ever seen. He has been a main eventer since his debut nearly 25 years ago and has constantly updated his persona/image to fit with whatever direction the company was going. But after debuting at the 1990 Survivor Series, it wouldn’t be until 1994 that the Undertaker would take some much-needed time off following his definitive Casket Match with then-WWF Champion Yokozuna at the 1994 Royal Rumble.
(SPOILER ALERT FOR A 20-YEAR OLD PRO WRESTLING MATCH – the editor)
At the Royal Rumble, the Undertaker was beaten down by over ten superstars, and even was hit with a “Four Post Massacre” before he was dumped into the titular casket. What immediately followed the match was eerie, awesome, and not like anything I’d seen before. The Undertaker appeared on the Titan Tron and gave what was one of his best promos, vowing that he would not rest in peace. He then floated out of the casket and then out of the arena. It was freaking awesome!
The next few months were some of the funniest promos, with all kinds of people being interviewed and talking about how the Undertaker had stopped in their shop, or that they saw him doing this or that. Eventually, the Million Dollar Man came out on WWF TV and said he that he had not only found the Undertaker, but was also now in control of the power of the Phenom.
I still remember exactly where I was when, on WWF Superstars (during The Heartbreak Hotel Segment), the Million Dollar Man–who originally brought the Undertaker to the WWF–brought him back…or so we thought. Paul Bearer started to return to ringside during the Undertaker’s matches so as to regain control of his monster, but instead was shunned. Bearer would later claim that whatever Dibiase had brought to the WWF was not the real Undertaker. And so Dibiase’s Undertaker would take on Paul Bearer’s at SummerSlam ’94.
Leslie Nelson, as his character Frank Drebin, set out to discover how there could be two Undertakers. They were cool vignettes that eventually lead to Drebin (and his partner, Ed Hocken) appearing at SummerSlam ’94. We didn’t see him a lot at the PPV, but there is a cool vignette at the end of the show with Drebin and Hocken saying that the case was now “closed”.
The match itself isn’t anything to brag about technical-wise, but the energy was high and the reveal of the “Real” Undertaker was just too sweet. Brian Lee, who portrayed the “Othertaker”, did a good job of mimicking the real Undertaker’s moves and mannerisms. Maybe I’m being a little biased, with my nostalgia for the older days of wrestling and being only ten years old in 1994, but I think this match delivered on everything it promised. It was a huge main event that had a lot of time and effort put into it. And it was also the first time the Undertaker took a significant amount of time off from the ring, so his return–and this match–was definitely worth the wait.
SummerSlam ’94 was packed with main eventers and legends of the past. It was a time when “The New Generation” was taking over the WWF. The younger, smaller guys were finally getting pushed and featured in matches. The “Bret versus Owen” feud–one worthy of a daytime talk show–might not have ended at SummerSlam, but it definitely was one of the highlights of it (if not the best part). Diesel versus Razor was a good, strong bout with a lot of wildcards thrown in, and knowing where these two end up just a little down the road makes it that much more interesting. And while the main event is not going to go down as a great wrestling match, it really encompassed what a SummerSlam main event should be.
In one of many shows that they would call together, Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler serve as the commentary team for the show and have some good chemistry together–maybe not as good as King and JR, but they do come close. I especially liked it when Lawler taunts the Hart family and all the little jokes he makes.
SummerSlam is the WWE’s second biggest PPV of the year and the biggest party of the summer. SummerSlam ’94 was indeed an epic party and deserving of its place on my Top 5 SummerSlam Events.
Click the image above to read the review for #5!
All images in this blog post are credited to WWE.