In the previous entry, I looked at International Incident 1996 and its lack of importance in the Attitude Era – the bad matches, lack of title shots and storylines; essentially it was a cheap attempt to get more money from marks and give everyone a payday for little effort. The next PPV was SummerSlam 1996, one of the Big Four PPVs – Royal Rumble in January, Wrestlemania near Easter, Summerslam in August and Survivor Series near Thanksgiving.
Over the next four weeks, I will review this PPV from the perspectives of a fan looking back at it after two decades as well as my original thoughts as a teenager watching it at the time (though this particular PPV was one I watched in 1998 as my family did not have the channels necessary to watch wrasslin’).
WWF SummerSlam 1996
The poster has Vader and Shawn Michaels looking at each other. Vader is giving it a big roar, but Shawn just looks a little pissed – as if someone cut a wicked fart and he was just getting the briefest scents. Vader has probably followed through. No wonder he looks so upset.
Big red WWF screen hits and we’re given a promo package in black and white. We see Vader and Mankind – “The monsters that wear masks.” Mankind is called, “deranged” and Vader, “brutal, ruthless, executioners of a sinister plan.” Shawn and Taker are shown as “the monster slayers”. They really big up the fact that Shawn is 200 pounds lighter than Big Van Vader. Taker is called, “the mysterious light in the world of darkness,” which is bollocks because he’s dead. They then call him a “reaper” and I am sick of this analogy already.
Big shot of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Some football thing? Or is it baseball? The Gund Arena (now the Quicken Loans Arena. Quicken Loans’ HQ is called… The Qube. The qunts) and it’s WWF SummerSlam, presented by super size Stridex pants. Huge pyro goes off. The place is really huge, actually, you can hardly see the damn ring from up here. The attendance was a very specific 17,000, which was a good bit more than International Incident’s 14,804, but also far more suspect. We have eight matches on the card, one of which appeared on Free-For-All. All of the matches look to be over ten minutes long (other than the squash and the gimmick match) with two approaching the half-hour mark. This is going to be a fucking great PPV as all the storylines have been building towards this, including the two main events, the first between Undertaker and Mankind and the second between Vader and Michaels. Your announcers are Vince McMahon, calling Cleveland the “new American city”, along with Jumping Jim Ross and “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. Big Curt is wearing a tactical turtleneck and blue blazer, unlike Owen who was the Blue Blazer. JR still refuses to wear ties as he considers them verboten.
(Note: Before the PPV began, there was a 30-minute show called Free-For-All, which was the nineties equivalent of the Preshow, full of promos and summaries of recent TV matches. There was an exclusive match on Free-For-All and had little to do with the actual PPV. It was a Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Yokozuna match. The match, which lasted less than two minutes. Involved Stone Cold going to bounce off the ropes and stopping several times. Eventually, Yokozuna went to the corner and the ring ropes broke. Very embarrassing for Stone Cold to be in such a shitty match and for Yokozuna to have the weight that eventually killed him become a joke.)
Upbeat music hits and out Fred Flintstone cosplayer Savio Vega. There is now an attempt at a Titantron on the walkway, with images of the wrasslers being shown, in this case Savio Vega and Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart. Vega is very happy about wrestling tonight and springs about the ring like a damn bouncy ball, dancing and embarrassing himself. Owen’s music hits and out he comes, selling his “broken” wrist that has been in a case for many moons. He slaps a sign out of two fluorescently dressed gentlemen’s hands. More selling of that wrist and Vince questions the wrist cast – not its legitimacy, which is airtight, but whether or not Owen should be able to wear it in-ring.
Owen Hart def. Savio Vega via TKO in 13:23
Twice in a row, Savio Vega has been the curtail jerker and twice he has been beaten. The world has moved on from the Flintstones, my friend. We’re into better cartoons now, like Biker Mice From Mars. Vince mentions that Jim Cornette is not about. Considering we have Bulldog and Vader on the card as well as Mr. Perfect on commentary, I’m not surprised. The man needs a payday, not a coronary. Owen goes for the cheap shot on Vega. The ref is Irish Referee Tim White, a man known for not taking shit. JR states that the cast is a weapon and that there is nothing wrong with his arm. No one disagrees. JR wonders how Owen passed the pre-match checks with a wrist so bad.
In right, Owen is doing a great job with Savio. So great that the Fed decide to show a backstage shot of good old Jim Cornette cheering on the man named Vader as we works some ‘ron. Owen Hart has great teeth but no lips. An awful lot of arm locks here for the Columbian. Owen does some fantastic flips, gets in a lock and can’t reach the ring ropes. JR mentions that Owen Hart is 1994 King of the Ring Winner, defeating such wrasslers as Tatanka (Lakota for “buffalo”), The 1-2-3 Kid (X-Pac) and Razor Ramon (Scott Hall).
Straight-up Shoot Fact: The tagline for the 1994 KotR is “The Perfect Father’s Day Card” which is a nice play on words, I suppose.
Owen throws Savio into the turnbuckle a few times. On the hard cam, there’s an absolute hero dressed as Goldust. Vince actually says nice things about Bret Hart, which is nice considering in a year and a half, he’ll be fucking him over. Irish Referee Tim White is telling Owen off but to no avail. Owen does a wee armbar takedown on Savio, gets a two count and he chastises the ref. Tim White plays it cool though. Savio bites the arse off Owen. Owen tries to wrap Savio in the ropes.
Something happens to the side as a bunch of fans stand up. Even Owen watches. Oh, who is it, but Clarence Mason, the wheeling and dealing legal counsel. Of course we all know that Clarence Mason was really part of immigration, here to arrest Owen, Savio or both for being illegal immigrants. In Trump’s America, they are verboten. Vince mentions that Mason represents Crush, who we have not met yet, but he’s just as exciting as his name suggests. Owen goes for the pin, lifting his legs onto the ring ropes like an absolute bastard but only gets the two. Savio goes for the pin but gets the same. Savio hit Hart with a fucking great spinning hell kick followed by atomic drop and a shower of clotheslines. Owen begs for mercy but none is given.
Thirteen punches in the corner and Vega his Owen with a big leg drop followed by a sidewalk slam. Owen hits Vega with the neckbreaker and goes up top. Missile dropkick and another two count. Owen acts like he has won, climbs to the turnbuckle and gets a super backdrop for his effort. Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart’s cast has bust Savio in the back of the head. What a mistake that was! Owen takes the cast off and bops Vega in the old head with it. Apparently Irish Referee Tim White saw nothing. Owen moves the comatose Vega into the sharpshooter and gets the TKO in 13:23.
Owen is a great lad and Savio is just as talented. What a curtain jerker. Best first match so far.
Who is this Flintstone cosplayer?
Clarence Mason raises Owen’s hand, holding onto it for the long walk to be deported back to the rustic north of Canada. Slow motion of the Canuck using his evil plastered arm to knock the innocent Vega to the ground. Out comes Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw AKA Cunt JBL. He has a shouting match with Vince as Perfect looks on with a smirk. Bradshaw cracks Vega in the back of the head on his way out, cementing his status as a total bastard.
On the Card will return on August 25th with the second part of SummerSlam 1996.