Mike Reviews Every WWF/E SummerSlam Opening Match – 1993 to 1997
By Michael Fitzgerald on 27th July 2022
Happy Wednesday Everyone!
We’ve got some more SummerSlam opening matches for you today and I’m actually excited for a couple of them.
Ted Dibiase Vs Razor Ramon
This one came about because Razor Ramon lost to 1-2-3 Kid and Ted Dibiase made fun of him for it, so Razor in turn cost Dibiase a match against the Kid and now both men are looking to settle the matter. Dibiase was actually on his way out of the promotion for a run in All Japan whilst they wanted to give Razor a solid pay per view victory in order to cement his recent babyface turn, so the pairing made sense as Dibiase could look at the lights and the fans would enjoy seeing Razor win.
Razor is pretty over here, although he can’t really pull off pink gear the same way Bret Hart can. Dibiase jump starts things by attacking Razor at the bell, but Razor gets a back body drop and Blockbuster Slam to send Dibiase to the floor and pop the crowd. The match then settles into your standard opening match following that, with Razor getting a babyface shine and Dibiase bumping around for him.
Dibiase was past his best physically by this stage but he had years of experience to fall back on and additional years of residual heat from being one of the most prominent Heels of the late 80’s and early 90’s in the WWF, so he’s still able to work a decent match here. Dibiase eventually manages to cut Razor off and does the usual Heel offence of things like chokes and cheap shots on top of basic moves like clotheslines and the chin locks. Dibiase makes the mistake of undoing the turnbuckle pad though and Razor sends him into it before following with The Razor’s Edge for the three count and a big pop.
WINNER: RAZOR RAMON
You could argue that Dibiase maybe got a bit too much offence there considering he was on the way out and the heat segment was pretty sluggish, but aside from that it was fine as an opener. You could tell that Dibiase’s best days were beyond him at this stage and it was probably the right time for him to move on. He actually didn’t do too badly in All Japan as a tag team partner for Stan Hansen, but he ended up injuring himself whilst working there and was eventually back in the WWF by the end of the year as first a commentator and then a manager. Razor would win his first IC Title not too soon after this and would have solid career as a top level name in both WWF and WCW before his personal demons over whelmed him
Bam Bam Bigelow and IRS w/ Ted Dibiase Vs The Headshrinkers (Fatu and Samu) w/ Afa and Captain Lou
The story here was that Bammer and IRS were supposed to be getting a Tag Title match with The Samoans, but then Diesel and Shawn Michaels won the belts on a house show so now the match has no stakes and it’s pretty pointless as a result. Diesel would go on to call the belts a “pittance” later on as well, which I’m sure made both of these teams feel good as they would have likely loved to have those belts.
It’s fun early on as The Samoans and Bammer go at it and throw down, with the crowd appreciating it as well. The opening exchanges in general are pretty fun, with all four wrestlers working hard and the action being pretty exciting. I could totally see this as a Tag Title match on a major pay per view. Bigelow eventually low bridges Fatu at one stage, which gives us the cut off and the Heel heat segment of the match with IRS and The Beast from the East working Fatu over for a bit.
Samu eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild, with the crowd being into it. Samu even gives Bigelow a back body drop at one stage in an impressive looking bump for a guy Bammers size to take. Sadly the finish is pretty lame, as Bigelow attacks Lou and that leads to Afa coming in for vengeance on behalf of his long-time ally, causing a DQ in the process.
WINNERS: BIGELOW & IRS BY DQ
This was fine until the cheap finish, as up to that point it was a fun match full of mean guys throwing down. Considering the belts were no longer on the line they could have at least given us a pin fall finish though. All four men brawl to the back following that
Hakushi Vs The 1-2-3 Kid
This was a hotly anticipated match at the time due to Hakushi showing off good athletic ability in his bouts with the likes of Bret Hart whilst Kid had also been nailing the work rate aspect for the past couple of years. There wasn’t much of a storyline coming in, although Hakushi had recently lost to Barry Horrowitz due to botched interference from Chris Candido and the commentary team push that he’ll be in a bad mood due to it, which might causes issues for The Kid.
This one features some fantastic fast-paced action, with both men trading counters and multiple instances of them fighting to a stalemate. The crowd is mostly into the action, with Hakushi’s more impressive moves getting some positive reactions even though he was still technically a Heel at this stage. Kid of course sells all of Hakushi’s offence really well in his usual rag doll manner, and we actually get an instance of Hakushi giving Kid a Bronco Buster, which was a move The Kid would eventually take for himself.
Hakushi eventually gains control of the contest, working Kid over with a mixture of precision strikes and bigger flashier moves, which leads to the crowd chanting for Kid to make a comeback (although it was a bit faint in all honesty). Kid is able to dodge a big splash off the top though and starts making the comeback with some nice fast paced offence, including a big dive to the floor and a slingshot leg drop back into the ring for two.
I quite enjoy the finish in this one, as rather than having Hakushi flatten Kid with a big series of attacks they instead have him counter a spin kick into a big power bomb typed move OUTTA NOWHERE, which makes Hakushi look resourceful without making Kid look weak because it was presented as Kid just being hit with the right move at the right time. The crowd even gives the three count a bit of a pop as well, especially as it was clean in the middle and Hakushi didn’t really cheat in the match itself.
Both men would soon switch alignment, with Kid going Heel and becoming a client of Ted Dibiase whilst Hakushi formed an alliance with Barry Horrowitz and went babyface. Neither of them would be members of the WWF roster by the time the next SummerSlam rolled around though, as Kid was over in WCW and Hakushi had gone back to Japan
The Slammy Award Winning Owen Hart Vs Savio Vega
I don’t think there was much of a backstory to this one. Owen was getting a mild mid-card push as a member of Camp Cornette and would soon win the tag belts with British Bulldog, so this match is just a way to keep him cooking against a winnable opponent. Owen was working the Bob Orton Jr cast gimmick at the time due to breaking his arm. They tease very early on that Owen wants to use the cast as a weapon, thus foreshadowing how things are going to go.
Savio targets the arm early on with standard fare like arm bars and whatnot, whilst it sounds like some of the crowd are actually chanting for Owen here. Owen bumps, feeds and sells well for Savio’s opening babyface shine, and the match is watchable as a result. Owen eventually kicks out of a pin and the force sends Savio should first into the corner, which leads to Owen cutting Savio off and working some heat.
Savio sells that well as the match continues to be a solid effort, with Owen targeting the arm and shoulder. We see that Clarence Mason has come down to watch the action, as he would soon be the manager for Owen and Davey Boy Smith. The crowd reactions haven’t been amazing, but they haven’t hated the match either and they do get invested when Owen tries to cheat and Savio has chances to win.
They eventually start to pick the pace up a bit in the closing stages, with Owen busting out the enziguri and spinning wheel kick respectively, whilst Savio gets a big kick of his own before delivering a ten punch in the corner. Both men make attempts to win it, with Owen even coming off the top with a Missile Dropkick at one stage for a good near fall. Owen smartly taunted a bit before pinning as well so as to protect the move somewhat.
Savio ends up accidentally landing on Owen’s cast when he delivers a back suplex off the top to Owen, meaning he can’t follow with a pin fall attempt. This gives Owen a chance to take the cast off and use it as a weapon, although sadly it’s in full view of the ref who has to pretend like he can’t see it. I’m guessing Mason was supposed to distract him and just missed his cue? Anyway, Savio is out following that so Owen locks in The Sharpshooter and the ref calls for the bell as Savio is out.
WINNER: OWEN HART
Outside of the botch with the finish, this was fine for an opener, with neither man doing anything too wild so as to take away from the rest of the show. It was your stereotypical opening match and it did what it needed to do. It’s just a shame the finish wasn’t executed correctly as they laid the table for it earlier in the match and it would have been a clever payoff had they done it properly
Steel Cage (Escape Rules)
Hunter Hearst Helmsley w/ Chyna Vs Mankind
The story here was that Triple H had brutally battered Mankind on route to winning the King of the Ring tournament in June but Mankind had come back to have a disputed finish with him at the July pay per view, leading to both men brawling all over the building. The combination of wild brawls and constant interference from Chyna had led to this match being set up, with the idea being that not only will the cage keep others out but it will also keep the two men in.
This is a good brawl, as both men tee off on one another with Mankind getting the best of it in the early going. Even though Chyna its outside of the cage she still manages to help her client by reaching through the bars and choking Mankind at one stage when he has the Mandible Claw applied to Triple H, and then attacks Mankind again when he is trying to climb out, which allows Triple H to bring him back into the ring with a Superplex.
This was back when the WWF still had super hard rings as well, so I respect both men for taking that bump. Triple H could potentially walk out following that, but he decides to remain in the cage and inflict more punishment, which continues to evolve his character from a prissy aristocrat into a more hardened bad guy who isn’t afraid to get physical. To be honest, adding Chyna to his act was the moment Triple H really started gaining some traction, as it allowed him to be less gimmicky and just play the role of generic Heel with an imposing bodyguard, which is a character most people can understand and get on board with.
Mankind of course sells well whilst getting worked over and takes some vicious bumps into the hard WWF blue barred cage, which was renowned for having very little give and it sure looks that way. The crowd is really into Mankind and gives his offence a good reception when he eventually starts fighting back, with Triple H doing a good job selling also, as this match has featured some snug believable looking action and a responsive crowd, making it an entertaining watch. I enjoy the work of both guys though so I might potentially be biased.
Triple H eventually ends up trapped in the ropes and that allows Mankind to crawl for the door, but Chyna is waiting and she slams the cage door onto Mankind’s head in brutal fashion. In her defence, Mankind himself would have demanded she make it look good, but MAN, that was some scary looking stuff and Mick Foley went into graphic detail just how much it hurt in his first book. They find a way to eventually bump Chyna without actually hitting her, as Mankind catapults Triple H into the cage whilst she is climbing it and that leads to her taking a spill to the floor for the biggest pop of the match.
They did an excellent job getting Chyna over as the fans really didn’t like her and were very happy to see her momentarily get hers in some form. Sadly Chyna does then come into the ring a little bit too early to help Triple H so he sends her out of the cage again so that we can get the spot the match is perhaps best known for, as Mankind climbs up to the penultimate rung of the cage and then pays homage to his hero Jimmy Snuka with a big elbow drop off the cage. That gets the expected big pop, although Mankind doesn’t quite get to show off his Dude Love tattoo as intended before jumping.
NOW it’s time for Chyna to help Triple H, as she tries to drag his limp body out of the cage door to the floor in order to win whilst Mankind climbs. However, Mankind sees her trying to do this and decides to just jump the rest of the way down the side of the cage in order to win the bout himself, giving us yet another memorable moment from this one. That is of course totally in line with the whole psyche of the Mankind character and worked a treat as a finish.
This is one of the many great matches the two had together, with the brawling inside the cage being good intense action and the finishing sequence being some excellent storytelling. Mankind is out on the floor following that, but Dude Love’s music starts playing and he eventually starts tapping his foot in time with it before strutting to the back
Nothing bad for this one and two of the matches were great, so I’m happy enough with that!
I’ll hopefully see you all next week for 1998 to 2002