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recommended ppv - typifies the feel of early 90s WWF events
on 25 September 2000
Summerslam '93 reminds me of how much the era of WWF Attitude in the late 90s has changed the whole feel of these events. This ppv takes place before blood-soaked hardcore matches and smashed ringside tables became commonplace. This card features some great singles and tag team wrestling as well as an award winning feud. Here's a rundown of the major matches:
Steiner Brothers vs. Heavenly Bodies - a stunning example of crisp and exciting tag-team action. The Steiners receive a great crowd response for their endless array of high-impact suplexes - they're all here. Their opponents execute some great double-team manoeuvres and show great timing. This is classic, speedy wrestling action which gives you no time to catch your breath - the best Steiners match at any WWF ppv.
Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. Perfect - a clash of 2 great technical wrestlers that match each other move for move. A fine mix of mat work and aerial manoeuvres, the crowd are firmly behind Perfect in the most skilful match of the event. It's a shame that the ending shortchanged the fans.
Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler - I'm a big fan of Bret Hart and I wondered how well he'd work with the aging Jerry Lawler. I needn't have worried -their feud is red-hot with an emotionally charged atmosphere in the arena. Two of Bret's brothers inc. the late Owen Hart are at ringside to witness a great brawl unfurl - but before Lawler and the Hitman collide, Bret has to face an unexpected opponent in the shape of Doink the Clown. These may not seem like great encounters on paper, but these wrestlers know how to work the crowd. Bret pulls off a few of his trademark moves, but these are not technical matches - it's all about how to get a feud over with the crowd, and it's done with style.
Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna - In 1993, McMahon was grooming Luger to become an All-American hero and respected WWF champion. The Lex Express campaign was one of the most expensive marketing ideas in wrestling - and yet the audience never embraced Luger as intended. Here, he battles Yokozuna (the most hated heel at the time) in a passable match with few surprises. Due to Yoko's great bulk, Luger's usually limited arsenal is lessened further - mostly punches and elbow drops - although he does manage a crowd-pleasing body slam on Yokozuna (emulating Hogan's efforts against Andre the Giant at WM III). The stars and stripes parade is out in full force in this match, but I must admit that I always disliked the anti-Japanese sentiment forcefed to the WWF fans.
Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez (R.I.P. match) - this meant no DQs and no count-outs. Undertaker has had some cracking matches in his time, esp. against Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley - but this isn't one of them. Gonzalez may be a giant, but his punches and body shots look so weak that he just doesn't seem threatening. Due to his size, 'Taker can only trade punches, clotheslines and his famous rope walk. There's no great momentum or excitement to this match.
Other highlights from the tape - See the 1-2-3 Kid (now X-Pac) in his ppv debut against I.R.S - he was more athletic and daring in those days, with great legwork and movement. Marty Jannetty takes on Ludwig Borga - not a defining moment for Marty who 'jobs' to Borga throughout almost the whole match, selling his stomach punches as if he was being hit by torpedoes. It makes you aware of the gulf in career success between himself and Shawn Michaels, his former partner. There's a lively 6-man tag between Tatanka / Smoking Gunns vs. Bam Bam Bigelow / Headshrinkers and also Ted Dibiase's swansong in the WWF as he takes on Razor Ramon.
All in all, this is a solid and entertaining ppv and is well produced. The "Countdown to Summerslam" sets up the matches well and puts you in the mood for what's to come. The commentary is strangely muted on my tape - I don't know if that's my luck or not! Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan provide the chat - for me, they never had the same chemistry as Gorilla Monsoon and Heenan who played off each other wonderfully. The best commentary offers verbal jousting and laughs alongside the action, i.e. a match on AND off-screen... A slice of nostalgia that somehow feels warmer and more inviting than the late 90s "Attitude" of WWF events.