Torch Flashbacks WWE SUMMERSLAM FLASHBACK SERIES - 1997 REPORT: Austin vs. Owen "broken neck" match, Bret vs. Taker, Hunter vs. Foley
Aug 4, 2010 - 1:45:46 PM
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WWE SUMMERSLAM FLASHBACK REPORT
AUGUST 25, 1996
REPORT BY WADE KELLER, PWTORCH EDITOR
(1) Mankind beat Hunter Hearst Helmsley at 16:30 in a cage match. When the bell rang to start the match, Hunter immediately dove toward the door and tried to slide out before making contract with Mankind. Mankind managed to grab Hunter's legs before he could escape the cage. The match was typical of a WWF cage match, where the wrestlers, rather than using the cage as a supplement to a good match, never turn their attention away from using the cage as the centerpiece of the storyline. That leads to a lot of slow, methodical climbing of the cage and crawling toward the door. Although it wasn't a very good match, there were enough high points to make it memorable, including the finishing move by Mankind. At the end of the match Mankind climbed the cage and was going to drop to the floor to win, but instead decided to give Hunter more punishment. He dove off of the second to the top rung of the cage and landed on Hunter with an elbow. He then climbed the cage and jumped to the floor to win. As Mankind ascended the cage, Chyna entered the ring. As Mankind climbed to the floor, Chyna began dragging Hunter toward the door. Chyna had earlier knocked out the ref. Chyna wasn't fast enough, though, and the ref recovered to award Mankind the match. The match was well booked in certain aspects in that Mankind's decision to punish Hunter despite having a chance to win in the end was preceded by Hunter making the same decision earlier in the match. At 4:45 Hunter had Mankind down and was just about to jump to the floor to win the match, but instead re-entered the ring and punished Mankind more. Mankind took a lot of nice bumps into the cage and took the majority of the beating during the match. They also had some good exchanges on the top of the cage. Chyna interfered throughout the match. Her greatest influence was when Hunter got his leg caught between the twisted middle and top rope at 12:00 and Mankind climbed out of the door, but Chyna slammed the door on him which caused the match to continue. At 13:30 Hunter went for the Pedigree, but Mankind catapulted Hunter into the cage, knocking Chyna off the ring apron outside the cage. That knocked out the ref. After winning the match, Mankind tapped his foot a la Dude Love and went "Bang, Bang" a la Cactus Jack. The match sounds better on paper than it was to sit through it, though. (**1/4)
Kevin Kelly and Sunny plugged the WWF 900 line. Todd Pettengill interviewed Gov. Christine Whitman, who was given a WWF Title belt in thanks for her removing the national tax on PPV receipts that had discouraged the WWF from running PPV events in New Jersey in the past. She was gracious and didn't seem embarrassed to be involved in the event. Gorilla Monsoon and The Head Bangers accompanied Whitman. Kinky.
(2) Goldust (w/Marlena) pinned Brian Pillman at 7:13. The match started with high energy as Goldust rebounded off the ropes with some hard back elbows. Goldust also bit at Pillman. Biting seems to be the hip move in wrestling these days, but unless they are willing to really bite down and draw blood (or blade), they'd be better avoiding it because it comes across as an advertisement that everything they're doing is a simulation when no blood is drawn. At 1:15 Pillman overtook offense. He chased Marlena at ringside, which gave Goldust a chance to take over. At 3:00 Pillman used Marlena as a shield, but Goldust got to him and they brawled on the floor. Pillman hit a top rope clothesline, but then went to a weak chinlock and showed some light in the process. Is there no resthold or transition mat hold that wrestlers know other than the crowd-killing chinlock. Weird facial expressions or grimacing don't make the hold any less mundane. The action picked up at 5:50. Goldust made a comeback at 6:30 doing his father's trademark crotch grab and bionic elbows. In the end, Goldust went for a sunset flip, which didn't look good at all, and Marlena nailed Pillman causing him to fall through on the sunset flip and get pinned. Pillman beat up the mannequin that was wearing Marlena's dress, which he would have to wear on Raw the next night. (*1/4)
(3) The Legion of Doom pinned The Godwinns at 9:45. Same old same old. Lou Albano was in the front row and McMahon said that perhaps Albano was scouting. (1/2*)
They spent 10 minutes giving two winners in person a chance at winning a million dollars and the same chance to two people whom they called at home. Everyone picked an envelope numbered 1-100 and tried to use the key inside to unlock the coffin full of $1 million. None opened. They revealed at the end that envelope no. 3 opened the casket. Sunny out-exposed Sable when it came to baring one's breasts and butt. Both were standing by as eye candy to make the ten minute segment more entertaining.
(4) British Bulldog fought Ken Shamrock to a double DQ at 8:26. This turned into a decent match with a strong ending in terms of Shamrock getting over with the crowd. There was a lot that was pretty mediocre about the body of the match, though. They brawled at ringside to start the match with a bang. In the ring Shamrock executed a great anklelock takedown, but Bulldog reached the ropes to break the submission hold. McMahon said Shamrock has been having trouble adapting to the WWF style of wrestling after leaving UFC. Actually, arguably the opposite is true in that Shamrock has adapted too quickly to being "just another" WWF wrestler in terms of his in-ring style. Speaking of exactly that, Bulldog applied a chinlock (ugh!) at 3:00 which Shamrock was unable to escape from! To have Shamrock, with his background, be unable to escape that hold so early in the match defies logic and kills whatever reputation he brought with him to the WWF. Really bad. Shamrock came up from a sunset flip bleeding from the mouth, which unintentionally added a realm of believability to the match. Bulldog rammed Shamrock into the ringside stairs at 5:20. At 6:00 Bulldog gave Shamrock a low blow. Like biting, low blows are overused and undersold these days. At 6:45 Bulldog went to yet another chinlock and showed a ton of light in the process. Bulldog threw dog food at Shamrock, which was the turning point of the match as an enraged Shamrock went nuts in beating on Bulldog. Shamrock snapped and applied the Gagne sleeper. With all of the holds Shamrock knows and being the athlete he is, he has decided the sleeper is the move that will best help him get over? Although the sleeper is a legit hold, for too many years in pro wrestling it has been the finisher of choice for wrestlers with extremely limited athletic skill (most recently Dan Spivey in the WWF). The ref called for the ball after Shamrock shoved the ref. Shamrock refused to release the hold. Several referees ran into the ring to pry Shamrock off of Bulldog. A couple of minutes later Shamrock released the hold on his own. Pat Patterson then approached Shamrock regarding his conduct, and Shamrock gave Patterson a belly-to-belly. Then, Jerry Brisco approached Shamrock and he did the same to him. Then, two referees approached Shamrock and they got the same treatment. I don't know about you, but if Shamrock just belly-to-belly suplexed two WWF executives, if I were a referee I would have thought twice before approaching Shamrock. Shamrock was over huge in the arena because he attacked the four officials. Shamrock seemed to really bask in the moment as the fans went nuts for him for the first time in his WWF stint. He gave two barbaric yelps before leaving the ring, still energized and rabid. Bulldog was helped from the ring, although if the goal was to get the sleeper over, it would have helped if Bulldog had lain in the ring for a minute after Shamrock left before coming to. (**1/2)
Shawn Michaels said that people think he and Bret have a grudge against each other, but Michaels said that isn't true. He said their grudge was settled at Wrestlemania 12 when he beat Bret for the WWF Title. He said he would be objective. McMahon said he doubted Michaels could remain objective and said Michaels is a very emotional person.
(5) The DOA (Crush & Chains & Skull & Eight Ball) beat Los Boriquas (Savio & Miguel & Jesus & Jose) at 9:10. Pretty much standard fare for an eight-man tag with two teams of virtually indistinguishable wrestlers. At 5:00 the NOD came to ringside. In the end Ahmed gave his Pearl River Plunge to Chains at ringside and threw him into the ring where Miguel pinned him. A 12-way brawl with all three gangs broke out after the match. (*)
(6) Steve Austin pinned Owen Hart to capture the WWF Intercontinental Title at 16:15. This match, like most matches during the night, started off with a bang. Austin hit a Thesz press in the first minute as fans chanted, "Austin, Austin." At 4:00 Austin began to pull Owen crotch-first into the ringpost, but Owen pulled in his legs and drew Austin face-first into the ringpost. Owen then threw Austin into the stairs. Owen bit Austin's head and hand, and Austin didn't come up bleeding, which made it seem as if Owen forgot to put in his dentures or something; how else could you bite a vulnerable enemy and not draw blood? At 6:45 Owen decided to return to the locker room, but Austin chased him down and dragged him back to the ring. Owen turned the tables at 7:40 with a belly-to-belly. Austin then rolled through on Owen and scored a two count. Owen began working over Austin's neck and applied a Camel Clutch at 10:30. Owen then went for a sleeper at 12:30, but Austin dropped down with a jawjacker. At 13:30 Owen went to a chinlock on the mat (ugh). Owen came off the ropes and reversed Austin's suplex attempt into a tombstone piledriver. That ended the match as Austin suffered a legit injury on the move. He didn't budge. The ref checked on Austin as Owen stalled by posturing to the crowd. Eventually, Owen staggered backward close enough where Austin -- who legitimately could barely move and probably shouldn't have even been trying -- rolled up Owen for a three count. A weak-looking finish, and perhaps dangerous to even execute. No fault of the wrestlers, but the sudden end hurt the match. It was on its way to being a very good match, but had not yet become a lock to be a match of the year candidate. The two could have pulled it out in the final eight minutes had Austin not suffered an injury. (***)
(7) Bret Hart pinned Undertaker to capture the WWF Title at 28:02. Bret came to the ring first. Then Michaels danced to the ring. Undertaker, the champ, came out third. Michaels checked Bret and Undertaker for foreign objects; Bret put up a fuss about Michaels touching him. Bret attacked Undertaker at the start of the match with the title belt. Michaels stepped in right away. Undertaker came back at 0:10 with an offensive flurry. Bret, though, reversed Undertaker into the stairs at ringside at 1:10. Michaels began to strictly enforce the rules and scold the wrestlers for breaking them. Undertaker rammed Bret's back into the ringpost twice, both times prompting stern warnings from Michaels. Undertaker followed up with a bearhug. Undertaker missed an elbow at which point the match pace slowed. Bret told Shawn to get off his back. At 7:30 Bret applied a leglock. At 7:55 Paul Bearer came to ringside. Undertaker reversed Bret's leglock, but barely got a pop from the crowd. Undertaker then went after Bearer, which gave Bret a chance to jump Undertaker from behind. At 10:20 Bret applied a figure-four on Undertaker around the ringpost, but Michaels counted to four. Bret broke before the five count, knowing Michaels would "take pleasure in DQing him." Bret yelled at Michaels, who yelled back. At 11:00 Pillman and Owen came to ringside. Bret applied a leglock in center ring. McMahon said, "I can't imagine Undertaker giving up." I can't believe any announcer in this industry is still ostracizing the submission or tapout. It's even sadder it's McMahon, who should realize by now how successful WCW has been at getting submission holds over as possible finishers. If McMahon continues to make a submission seem impossible and dishonorable in main event matches, fans will continue to not take submission finishers seriously. McMahon, thankfully, is the last of a dying breed as almost all other announcers have stopped ostracizing submissions. Undertaker escaped and then flipped over the top rope and landed on his feet, at which point he attacked Pillman and Owen at ringside. Michaels ordered Pillman and Owen to return to the locker room. As he escorted them to the back, Undertaker chokeslammed and covered Bret. With no ref, Undertaker failed to score the three count. Undertaker was upset and argued with Michaels. At 14:57 Bret rolled up Undertaker for a two count. Bret then rammed Undertaker into the post again. Bret and Michaels argued again. At 17:40 Bret hit a second rope elbow in the ring. At 18:40 Undertaker snake eyed Bret over the top rope turnbuckle and took over offense. At 20:00 Bret set up the sharpshooter, but he took his time. Undertaker managed to grab Bret by the throat and rise to his feet. He followed up with a flurry of punches and a flying clothesline. He then hit a legdrop and scored a two count. McMahon praised Michaels for his objectivity. At 23:27 Undertaker walked the top rope, but Bret shoved him off and Undertaker straddled the top rope. Bret then superplexed Undertaker. Bret then applied the sharpshooter. At 25:10 Undertaker broke the sharpshooter, and did so with so much power that his legs propelled Bret out of the ring to the floor. Bret had a look of utter shock on his face. Ross really sold the escape by Undertaker well. Bret followed up by attempting to apply a sharpshooter around the ringpost. The move didn't look all that painful, but it did give Undertaker a chance to again kick out of the hold with his legs, sending Bret flying off the ring apron and onto Michaels below. With Michaels down, Bret gave Undertaker a chairshot. Michaels returned to the ring and counted to two before Undertaker kicked out. Bret accused Michaels of a slow count. Michaels discovered the chair in the ring and asked Bret if he used it. Bret said no, then spit at Michaels. Michaels blew his top and swung the chair at Bret, but Bret ducked and Michaels hit Undertaker instead. Bret then covered Undertaker. Michaels, reluctantly, made the three count. Michaels looked unhappily at Bret as he counted to three. Michaels then stormed off, leaving Bret to celebrate his title win. Fans threw garbage at Bret and the rest of the Hart Foundation as the show went off the air. Considering they had to go six minutes longer than originally planned, they put in a strong performance. Not great, but Michaels's presence lifted the match an extra half-star. (***1/2)
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