Thursday, 11 August 2011
Duckman’s Definitive Summer Slam Memories!!
Unless you’ve been living under a Dwayne Johnson for the last few weeks you will know what is right around the corner. The official ‘biggest event of the summer!’ One of the most anticipated shows of the year. An event so incredible and life changing that you would give up a limb just to be able to say, “I was there.” It’s a happening like no other that takes place this weekend and the eyes of the world will be trained on it. This year controversy has ran wild in the build up and no one knows what is going to happen. All they can say for sure is it’s going to be one hell of a show.
Alright, Duckman, “enough of the hype,” I hear you cry. “Get to the good stuff.” So without further ado, let’s get to the ‘biggest event of the summer!’ That’s right, I’m talking about the one and the ONLY…Mid Argyll Agricultural Show!! The seventh (out of eight) most popular Agricultural Show in the West of Scotland!! I know, I’m almost too excited to type this!!
Trust me, there is no other feeling in the world that compares to the excitement of standing in a muddy, rain swept field, a half cooked E-coli ridden ‘burger,’ in your hand, surrounded by drunk farmers, as you take in the true wonder of the best sheep in show…show. Or the tractor display – you’ve never seen a plough being pulled until you’ve seen it being pulled by a New Holland T-9 tractor, now that’s what I call a party!
So sit back and settle down as I bring you over 2000 words on the history of the ‘biggest event of the summer,’ and together we can relive some of the glory days – including Mrs McGregor’s unprecedented seven consecutive wins in the ‘best scone’ competition. The highly controversial decision to allow sheep from outside Mid Argyll to be considered for the ‘Miss Mid Argyll’ beauty pageant as well as…wait, what? Summerslam? No I didn’t agree to write about Summerslam. I did? What email? Hold on, I need to call my agent…
*editors note – He really was going to write about a farming show. Yeah, apparently it’s on this weekend and he’s really excited about it. I don’t get it either, must be a Scottish thing.*
Well apparently Summerslam is also on this weekend and WWE own the phrase ‘biggest event of the summer,’ so legally I have to write about Summerslam, otherwise I can’t use that phrase...and I love that phrase. Just another example of Vince McMahon throwing his weight around, I’m sure you’ll agree. So it is under extreme protest that I bring to you:
Duckman’s Definitive Summerslam Memories!!
Oh what a jolly jape. To be honest, you probably have to live in Mid Argyll to find all that even slightly amusing. And it also helps to know that I don’t actually look forward to ‘the show.’ I’ve been to it once and found it to be the most weird, boring and slightly unnerving thing I’ve attended since Sunday School when I was 5.
Yep, no doubt about it, all the best jokes need a full written explanation to make them funny. So to the 3 people reading this that enjoyed that opening skit – you’re welcome. To the rest of you – I’m sorry, I’ll get to the wrestling stuff now.
So, Summerslam, one of the official ‘Big 4’ Pay Per View events that WWE introduced to the wrestling world back in the 80s that revolutionised the business. Along with Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania and Survivor Series, Summerslam is one of the crown jewels in the WWE PPV calendar and one of the few events I’ll still pay to watch. Though given these days it’s up against such ‘must see’ events as Fatal Four Way and Capitol Punishment, it’s no wonder I look forward to and willingly pay for Summerslam.
I’m sure plenty of other people on the multitude of wrestling websites out there have given their thoughts, complaints and predictions about this year’s Summerslam show. I like to do things a little differently, so follow me down memory lane as I look back at some of my favourite Summerslam moments and matches and hopefully squeeze a half decent article out of it! Oh and as far as this year’s show goes – I’m in the ‘Punk or riot’ camp but fear the Alberto Del Rio cash in is going to ruin it for everyone.
Anyway...what better place to start a look back at Summerslam than the first one in 1988? A show I remember for 3 reasons; The Ultimate Warrior’s 30 second squash of the Honky Tonk Man to win the IC Title and begin his run to the top of the WWE, Miss Elizabeth taking off her skirt in the main event to reveal some bikini bottoms and Superstar Billy Graham proving that he was not just ahead of his time when it came to steroid use, but also shit commentary, as he engaged in the kind of rambling, nonsensical drivel than even Booker T would struggle to understand.
Of course as a kid seeing Warrior win like that was mind blowing. Although not as mind blowing as Miss Elizabeth’s distraction in the main event. Shows you how far wrestling and society in general has changed since 1988 – at the time what she did was considered shocking and sexy. I dread to think what she’d have had to do these days to get that kind of reaction...it’d probably involve a number of props, a Rabbi and a harness. Oh and they’d have to broadcast it at half time of the Superbowl.
The best part about the main event (which was a terrible match) is the really subtle look of annoyance Randy Savage gave to Hulk Hogan when he lifted Elizabeth onto his shoulder as they celebrated their win. All it took was one look to plant a seed for one of the hottest feuds in the history of wrestling...ah subtly in wrestling booking, remember those days?
Oh and for those of you sitting there thinking, “fuck me, the one he wrote about commentators was long enough – he’s got 20 years of PPVs to go through here,” I’m not going to cover every single Summerslam, don’t worry.
Which is why we’re jumping forward in time to Summerslam 1991 and the famous wedding between Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth. Interesting fact, this show still holds the record for the most number of women wearing huge glasses and shoulder pads shown crying on PPV. Honestly, female wrestling fans are even lamer than us blokes.
The wedding was horrendously cheesy and actually quite creepy if you know the real life story of Savage and Elizabeth (him a controlling maniac coke head, her miserable in their relationship) and the fact they’d actually broken up in real life a couple of years earlier. Still Jake Roberts and the Undertaker did a great impression of Scotsmen at a wedding – by smashing the place up and getting into a fight with the groom. Respect gentlemen, respect.
Behind the scenes this show is notorious for The Ultimate Warrior threatening to no show unless Vince paid him a substantial amount of money. Hilariously Sgt Slaughter and Hulk Hogan discussed “dealing with the situation physically,” but unfortunately they didn’t go through the with the threat. Man I’d loved to have seen that, a three way slap fight between a yellow balding hulk, a dude from GI-Joe and a crazy bastard in war paint and tassels. Personally I feel sorry for Warrior, you have any idea how expensive face paint and cocaine was in 1991?
Summerslam 1992 – my favourite WWE show ever, it wasn't shown live on PPV, it was on a tape delay in both the the UK & US but it was from England, which meant I was practically there. Even though I wasn’t. Interesting fun fact - in the crowd that day? None other than a young Nigel McGuiness (or Desmond Wolfe to the 3 people who watch TNA). It was also the only WWE PPV to be broadcast outside the States and the single biggest gate WWE ever drew. The Wrestlemania 3 gate was vastly inflated but at Wembley they legit drew over 82,000 fans.
This show stands out for a few reasons, other than the fact I was 10 years old and having an aneurism of excitement for everything I saw. There were loads of green foam hands in the crowd which made for a hell of a visual. The Road Warriors got one of the biggest fucking crowd pops EVER when they came out on their motorbikes and Bret Hart vs. Davey Boy Smith for the Intercontinental Title was, hands down, one of the best matches of all time. Not just for the in-ring work but the phenomenal crowd reaction to every single second of it.
Of course in the years that followed we found out on the night Davey Boy was out his face on a heroic amount of drugs, forgot everything they had planned for the match the minute he got to the ring and had to be carried through the whole match by Bret who called every single spot. That alone should earn Bret the tag of ‘greatest worker of all time,’ because even watching it back now, it’s hard to tell just how fucked up Davey was and how much Bret saved the damn match.
Oh when Davey won the IC Title and the crowd erupted? Little Duckman nearly lost all his feathers -an incredibly emotional moment and one of the most important memories to me as a wrestling fan. From that moment I was as hooked on wrestling, as Davey Boy was on somas.
Right, we all know the mid 90s weren’t kind to WWE and Summerslam didn’t escape. I submit to the jury, Giant Gonzalez in the main event of Summerslam 1993, Lex Luger in general and real Undertaker vs. fake Undertaker at Summerslam 1994. Yeah, let’s just leave that alone and move along – nothing to see here folks.
Summerslam 1995 – Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels in their ladder rematch from Wrestlemania 10. I love this match. It’s almost better than their first. It also features a staple of all WWE shows in the mid 90s, namely Shawn Michaels freaking out at something going wrong during his match.
Still, this was one of the most exciting and innovative matches of all time and set the tone for all ladder matches that came after it. Interesting fact – this show was the first PPV appearance by a certain triple lettered man who is going to be the guest referee at this year’s Summerslam. He beat Bob Holly – which made my friend Dorling cry for a month.
Summerslam 1996 and Shawn Michaels once again freaked the fuck out when Vader screwed something up during their match for the WWE Title. I can’t for the life of me think why Michaels had a reputation for being a little diva bitch during this era...that match was great up until the finish which was so overbooked even Vince Russo would’ve asked them to tone it down a bit.
I know I said wasn’t going to go year by year, but come on it’s Summerslam 1997 – the night Owen Hart nearly cost the WWE its biggest and most popular star of all time. When he dropped Stone Cold Steve Austin on his head with that wacky piledriver I’m sure Austin thought his career was over. I’m also sure if Vince had known how much money Austin would make him in the following few years, his arse would’ve fallen out the second Austin’s bald noggin hit the mat.
Thankfully Austin was able to continue his career after that moment, although it was cruelly curtailed. The sight of him crawling up with half his limbs not working and slowly rolling Hart up for the pin is one of the bravest and saddest sights I’ve ever seen in wrestling. Toughest SOB on the planet? Oh hell yeah!
Summerslam 2000 marked a high point in terms of in-ring work and business in WWE. The company was on fire, drawing huge numbers on TV and PPV and blowing the sinking ship of WCW out of the water. The first TLC match with The Dudleys, Hardys and Edge and Christian is one of the most spectacular matches of all time. Ten years on it’s easy to say that this match and the other similar high risk stunt matches that followed had a big part in shortening the careers of some of the main players and no doubt pushed them down the prescription medication path. However, and this sounds selfish as hell, it was one fucking great match!
Summerslam 2000 also saw Shane McMahon continue his desperate pursuit of acceptance as a wrestler by jumping off as many high places as he could. Chris Jericho and ‘he who shall not be named’ had a great 2/3 falls match. The main event three way for the WWE Title was memorable mainly for Kurt Angle getting KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT by a HHH pedigree through the announce table when the table broke too soon and H put Kurt’s head through the concrete floor.
I still remember the camera moving in and Angle snoring like a hibernating bear! Credit to HHH and The Rock who managed to salvage the match and credit to Kurt Angle, who came back out for the finish, even though he looked like a 90 old dementia patient trying to remember where he parked his car in 1947.
Summerslam 2002 was one hell of a show for two reasons. Firstly the epic, brutal, bloody and downright legendry unsanctioned street fight between HHH and Shawn Michaels. You all know the story of Michaels coming back from a career ending back injury to have this match and then going on for another 7 plus years to even greater in-ring performances than his first run. This match was about as good as wrestling gets and one of the best matches of either man’s career.
Secondly it marked the official start of Brock Lesnar’s criminally short run as THE MAN in WWE. His match with The Rock was tremendous, the young animal going up against the established Champion and the torch being passed at the end. The vignettes used to hype the match with both men training are some of the best promos WWE have ever done. The footage of Brock running up a mountain carrying a fucking TREE on his shoulder should be shown before every UFC fight he has.
It’s a shame Brock found life in WWE wasn’t for him because personally, I think he could have been as big as Austin in terms of drawing power. That man had unlimited money making potential in wrestling. I’m sure Vince cried himself to sleep when the million plus buy rates came in for Brock’s last two UFC PPVs. The only man to break one million buys on PPV TWICE in one year since Mike Tyson. Say what you will about his attitude and his willingness to move on when things don’t go his way but Brock Lesnar DRAWS MONEY.
To be honest, since that show it’s kind of slim pickings when it comes to great Summerslam moments. Randy Orton becoming the youngest WWE Champion of all time? Shawn Michaels over selling for Hulk Hogan in one of the most hilarious matches of all time? ‘Taker vs. Edge in a Hell in the Cell match? CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy in a TLC match? All pretty cool, sure. The scary thing, in researching this article, is seeing how much star power WWE has lost since the early part of the last decade.
Or even worse, how poorly booked their shows have been over the last 3-5 years, to the point where at Summerslam last year they had their hottest angle in YEARS with The Nexus but by the end of the night, they’d all been pointlessly killed to fuck by John Cena. And a year on, half of them are gone from the company, one of them spends every show having Michael Cole take the piss out of him on commentary and the one guy who should have been the true star out of the whole deal, Wade Barrett, is spinning his wheels in Smackdown mid-card hell.
Wow. Ok, this is ending on a downer. Thanks WWE, you cocks. Hopefully this year Summerslam can live up to the amazing shows of the past and with the CM Punk angle, perhaps it can bring back the fans who have no doubt drifted away since 2002. Then again, the show is on Sunday and they’ve announced 4 matches...for the second biggest PPV of the year...and people wonder why I watch Ring of Honor!
So there you go folks. I hope you had fun on this ramble down Summerslam memory lane. Don’t worry, I won’t really be attending the Mid Argyll Agricultural Show this weekend. I’ll be too busy watching riots on TV and praying that they don’t fuck CM Punk over in the same way they fucked over Nexus last year! And would you know it, just as a typed that, ‘Cult of Personality’ came on my IPod. Seriously. That’s awesome. Here’s hoping that’s the last song we hear on Sunday night when Summerslam 2011 is done and dusted.
As always, thanks for reading and supporting Wrestling’s Last Hope. If you’ve got some favourite Summerslam memories I’d love to hear them. Also if you have any suggestions for future articles, let me know. You can follow me on twitter @EFKDuckman and I’ll be back next week with more wrestling related rambling. Cheers.