WWF SummerSlam 1992 Review feat. Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog

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WWF SummerSlam 1992

WWF SummerSlam 1992 may not be the best such event, but it’s arguably the most memorable. That’s because of the show taking place at the old Wembley Stadium in London, England with around 80,000 fans looking on to watch their hero, The British Bulldog, face Bret “Hitman” Hart for the Intercontinental Championship. You know that result, of course, but do you remember what else happened when SummerSlam went international?

The Bushwhackers & Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. The Mountie & The Nasty Boys

Three strange things are worth mentioning here, but I’ll just start with the first two and come to the other shortly. The first is that, while the show was held in the UK on August 29, and it aired as a tape-delay PPV in the US that night, UK viewers couldn’t watch it until two nights later, which is bizarre. Even odder, not all of the matches recorded here were broadcast on the PPV itself, and on the UK version, there was one fewer bout. Confused? So was I when I learned, a few years after first watching this event, that not only had other contests taken place, but American fans got to see them! Anyway, one of those matches was this six-man tag, which was a simple way to get the large number of fans invested into the show (which wasn’t particularly hard, to be fair). Duggan pinned Mountie for the win; Mountie would be gone from the WWF before Survivor Series, and all bar The Bushwhackers would be out of the door within 12 months (and even Luke and Butch weren’t regulars by late 1993).

Papa Shango vs. El Matador

The other odd fact about SummerSlam 1992 is how the original presumed line-up changed dramatically. For several months after WrestleMania VIII, the WWF were slowly building up feuds for Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair, The Undertaker vs. The Berzerker, Big Boss Man vs. Nailz, Money Inc. vs. The Natural Disasters, The Legion Of Doom vs. The Beverly Brothers, Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels and British Bulldog vs. Repo Man. But once the build for SummerSlam began properly, almost all of those were dropped, and none of those matches happened here at Wembley Stadium. Another suddenly-truncated feud pitted Ultimate Warrior against Papa Shango, with the latter instead settling for a momentum-building win over El Matador in a match that not all PPV buyers got to witness. Although Shango had only debuted a few months earlier, both he and Matador would also be WWF goners come SummerSlam 1993.

The Legion Of Doom vs. Money Inc.

The PPV began proper with this tag match, a basic yet very well-received doubles bout that saw The LOD defeat Ted DiBiase and IRS. At the side of the Road Warriors were Paul Ellering and his puppet Rocco (yep), but that’s not the most noteworthy thing about this match (nor was it DiBiase’s Vanish-friendly white trunks). Allegedly, Hawk was a bit, how shall we put it, “dizzy” during this match, which led Animal to insist that the Doomsday Device would not be used for the finish (Animal powerslammed Ted instead). What’s more, during LOD’s motorcycle entrance, Hawk parked too close to Animal, which apparently caused a burning effect on Animal’s leg. This proved to be LOD’s last stand of their first WWF tenure, as Hawk was suspended for failing a drugs test (hence him going a bit wild prior to the match, since he knew he would be suspended anyway), and he ended up quitting the promotion instead. Animal stuck around for a little bit longer by temporarily teaming with Crush on house shows, but he was soon out the door as well, and The Legion Of Doom wouldn’t wrestle for the WWF again until 1997.

Nailz vs. Virgil

Although Nailz didn’t face Big Boss Man at SummerSlam 1992, their storyline hadn’t ended, as the implication was that Boss Man was still recovering from a previous Nailz beating and would exact revenge further down the line. This meant that Nailz would instead build up his heel heat further by taking out Virgil, who had less credibility in 1992 than Heath Slater did in 2016 when he was the only wrestler not to be Drafted. Nailz picked up a quick win and choked Virgil with a nightstick afterwards, continuing the build for Boss Man’s big grudge match against him at Survivor Series. Match quality was meh, but are you really surprised?

Shawn Michaels vs. Rick Martel

I mentioned the booking plans changing dramatically for SummerSlam, but few were impacted more than Shawn Michaels. This event was originally set to be held in Washington, D.C., where Shawn was set to challenge and potentially dethrone Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Title. The location switch necessitated a match alteration, which meant that Michaels would instead face Rick Martel in a rare heel vs. heel match, said to be for Sensational Sherri’s affections. There was a rule here that neither man could hit the other in the face, which was funny. Martel was dressed as if he was going to compete at Wimbledon for his entrance, while Shawn looked like he was going to hang out with Peter Stringfellow or something. The match was decent but nothing particularly memorable, and it had an odd finish, where their eventual resistance to avoid punching one another led to Sherri fainting, and both men battling to a double countout. Sherri moved her head out of their sight to prove that she was only faking (Shawn’s probably heard that before), but Martel poured a bucket of water over both Shawn and Sherri in a move that somehow didn’t turn him babyface. One last thing: since Bret says that he partly convinced Vince to change the location for SummerSlam, could this be a factor in Shawn holding such hostility towards Bret in later years? Hmm …

WWF World Tag Team Championship Match
The Natural Disasters (C) vs. The Beverly Brothers

Though Earthquake and Typhoon didn’t face Ted DiBiase and IRS at SummerSlam 1992, they didn’t mind too much because they had already defeated them to become Tag Team Champions. Therefore, their new opponents were Beau and Blake, whose stock temporarily increased by virtue of them getting a title shot. This wasn’t too bad to be fair, but it also wasn’t a must-see tag bout by any stretch. The champions retained when Earthquake hit his, erm, sit-down splash, but The Disasters wouldn’t hold the gold for too long, as Money Inc. would be champions again by October. Harking back to an earlier theme, all four (and The Genius for that matter too) would be out of the WWF locker room inside a year; yes, it was less than 12 months on from this show that Typhoon had his most infamous moment in WCW as The Shockmaster.

Crush vs. Repo Man

This is the match that remained on the main PPV, but not for UK fans. Why? I have absolutely no idea. It is wrestling law for me to point out here that Repo Man was formerly Smash, meaning that this short bout pitted former Demolition members against one another. Repo Man was a comedic mid-card heel at best here, whereas Crush was the recipient of a slow push to what ended up being very little, at least as a babyface. Therefore, it was inevitable and logical that Crush would win, and that’s what he did following his head-crushing finisher (were you expecting anything else?).

WWF Championship Match
Macho Man Randy Savage (C) vs. The Ultimate Warrior

There was a fun story to this SummerSlam 1992 bout: Mr. Perfect, the executive consultant of Ric Flair, suggested that both champion and challenger had discussed having him in their corner, but with neither revealing who had struck a deal. Perfect implied that he was bargaining for a higher price, and all the while, Ric Flair was sniffing around, hoping to capitalise on whatever transpired at Wembley Stadium to subsequently recapture the WWF Title himself. It was a fun story that ran right up to the match itself, though it was never really explained what Perfect and Flair specifically gained from all this, other than playing mind games with Savage (who sported a gorgeous pink outfit here) and Warrior (who donned an-almost transparent singlet that made some probably think that his little Warrior was on display).

Although their WrestleMania VII Career match is fondly remembered and rightfully so, as it was amazing, their SummerSlam rematch here was also very good, and arguably a better overall wrestling contest, since it relied less on drama and more on actual wrestling skill. Indeed, Warrior proved again here that he could hold his own in a major setting, and really when you think about his WWF tenures, it was very rare that he didn’t have a great match on a major stage. Some will say this was due to his opponents, but Warrior wasn’t as bad as others would have you think. For around twenty minutes, both men gave it everything that they had, until it was time for shenanigans, as Perfect and Flair marched to ringside. Perfect tripped Savage, suggesting a Warrior-Perfect alliance, but Flair later struck Warrior in the back with a steel chair, raising further questions. In the end, Savage dived on Flair at ringside, only to injure his knee to force a countout win for Warrior. Post-match, the heels pounded Macho until Warrior came to the rescue, and the faces embraced, with neither having sold out to Perfect. The damage was done, though, because Savage was kayfabe injured, and Flair would win the WWF Title just days later.

The Undertaker vs. Kamala

The only memorable thing about this match is Undertaker’s first of many grand entrances via a hearse. Otherwise, this was short and forgettable, with Kamala inflicting pain but being unable to put Taker away. This was really just a set-up for their sudden feud rather than a conclusion, as Kim Chee interfered on the Ugandan Giant’s behalf, which led to Chee and Harvey Whippleman leading a post-match beating on Taker. But he sat up, and Kamala ran away, keeping their rivalry alive. Their hostilities would conclude in a Coffin match at Survivor Series, where Undi’ beat Kamala once and for all. As noted, though, the entrance is the only thing that will stick in your mind when watching this back.

Tatanka vs. The Berzerker

In another slice of confusion, time constraints prevented this bout from being included on the SummerSlam 1992 PPV, which meant that this was omitted inadvertently. That aside, it served its purpose of giving Tatanka a decent victory, even though Berzerker’s stock had fallen dramatically over the previous few weeks, going from an Undertaker match to this. Mind you, the guy didn’t even have a proper finishing move (he’d just throw someone over the top rope and expect a countout win), so if he couldn’t get past the unbeaten-yet-inexperienced Tatanka, he had zero chance of toppling Taker.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match
Bret Hart (C) vs. The British Bulldog

Normally, an IC Title match headlining a PPV (especially in this era) would be strange, but we were in England after all, and The British Bulldog was coming home to try and win a major prize, so this match had to go on last at SummerSlam 1992. It had a nice build-up, too, with the emphasis being on the family quarrels caused by this match taking place, in particular as it pertained to Diana Smith, Davey Boy’s wife and Bret’s sister. The big-fight feel at Wembley was enhanced by Rowdy Roddy Piper making a surprise appearance to play the bagpipes just beforehand, and Lennox Lewis holding the Union Jack flag as he walked Bulldog to the ring. It’s interesting that Bret had yet to reach the main event level, but he comes across here as a true superstar; he was holding his own as the WWF’s main man for some time before he was even considered to be WWF Champion.

As for the match itself, you probably don’t need me to tell you what happened here. The two men had a truly great contest, one of the best SummerSlam matches of all-time. Bret has said that he helped to carry a confused Davey Boy through all of this, meaning that they might have been able to do something even more special under better circumstances. It was largely basic but very well-executed offence, and action which had the fans on the edge of their seats throughout. It lived up to the hype and then some, with a huge suplex off the ropes by Bret being a big highlight. Hart somehow rolled out of this position into a Sharpshooter on Bulldog, and The Hitman later had fans’ nerves jangling after kicking out of a Running Powerslam (this being an era when very few wrestlers kicked out of established finishing moves). Shortly thereafter, Bret went for a sunset flip, only for Bulldog to cradle him and get the pin to win the IC Title. The fans reacted as if England had won the World Cup again, because it mattered so much, and really the success of this event depended on how well this match went. Needless to say, it was awesome. Afterwards, after a brief tease to the contrary, Bret congratulated Bulldog, and they celebrated with Diana as pyrotechnics went off to end the show in a big, big way.

Bret has stated that he was the real winner at SummerSlam 1992, because this performance proved to Vince and friends that he was worthy of playing a major role in the WWF. That he became WWF Champion just six weeks later seems to back up his point. As for Bulldog, it’s amazing to think in hindsight that he didn’t even last until Survivor Series: losing the IC gold to Michaels in October, he was then fired for violating the company’s anti-drug policy. Even more astonishingly is that, while Bulldog was portrayed to UK viewers as being a top star, the WWF didn’t actually do that much with him from his late 1990 return onwards, and his match with Berzerker was even trimmed from Mania due to a lack of time (what is it with Berzerker and scheduled matches that don’t go to plan?). Therefore, it’s strange looking back that Bulldog even received this opportunity, and it’s a shame that he didn’t stick around long enough to progress further. Of course, he would return in 1994, but while everybody agrees that this was Bulldog’s finest hour, it’s crazy to think upon analysis that it was a massive stroke of luck that he got to experience this triumph in the first place.

WWF SummerSlam 1992 is an unforgettable entry for the annual summer series. The main event is exceptional, and Savage vs. Warrior is awesome too. The match quality for the rest of the card is very topsy-turvy, but at least the Brits got to see so many vintage Golden Age WWF stars just before many of them were sent packing. It’s interesting to note, too, that this was the first ever WWF PPV without Hulk Hogan, who had departed after Mania, which makes me wonder what role he might have played if he was on the active roster at this time. Anyway, you should definitely check out the spectacle of SummerSlam 1992 if you haven’t already, as well as watching the forgotten Savage-Warrior showdown, and especially the Bret-Bulldog classic.